By Lisa Micheli (President & CEO)
Greetings from Australia, dear Community! In 2020, you may recall that I was selected to be a Global Fulbright Fellow, enabling me to travel around the world to different Mediterranean biomes. The focus of this quest was to link our work in California to the work of our global partners facing similar challenges around droughts, floods, fires, and threats to biodiversity.
Key to this opportunity was the generous hospitality of Dr. Sally Thompson, one of the founding members of our Terrestrial Biodiversity and Climate Change Collaborative (TBC3). Originally from Perth, Australia, Dr. Thompson was faculty at UC Berkeley when we started TBC3 and has now returned to her homeland to lead endeavors seeking to better understand the impacts of climate change on the water balance and ecosystems across the country. Like Pepperwood, Sally is spearheading a long-term monitoring approach that utilizes the multifaceted value of a Sentinel Site. In advance of my arrival to Perth, Sally facilitated numerous connections with academic, agency, and NGO leaders working within the realm of building landscape resilience.
Since my departure to Australia in late June, my trip has been nonstop. What stands out to me, midway through these travels, are the numerous parallel efforts taking place here down under. For instance, the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network O2 Flux Tower (pictured at right) is, like our Flux Towers, measuring the energy, carbon, and water exchange between the atmosphere and ecosystems. This opportunity has allowed me to step outside of my usual routine, creating space for me to fit what we do at Pepperwood within a global context.
After so long working in isolation, it came as somewhat of a surprise to me how eager others were to connect and share research and stewardship. I’m so grateful to the many different hosts and practitioners who are stepping out of their own routine to engage with me, ensuring that my time here is well-spent. And I’m grateful to the Pepperwood team for supporting me in this travel opportunity – I couldn’t be here without them.
We, as a global community, are up against incredible odds. Regional approaches that directly engage communities are the way forward, but uniting with our global partners reinforces our efforts, enables the sharing of innovation, and allows us to effectively monitor the planet. I look forward to unfolding the stories of my Fulbright Fellowship to you over the next few months.