I arrived in Brisbane, Australia on Wednesday, May 20 after traveling for 25 hours. The first two days I spent getting oriented to the city and waiting for my luggage to arrive. On Friday, May 22 I traveled into the city to meet with Dr. Nick Schofield, the CEO of the International RiverFoundation. I became familiar with the office space and staff that I will be in for the next four weeks.
About the International RiverFoundation (IRF):
IRF works in partnerships around the world to fund and promote the sustainable restoration and management of river basins. As an international dynamic public benefit organization, we have a life-changing impact on individuals and communities. By helping restore and sustainably manage rivers we have achieved improved health, ecological, economic, and social outcomes for people and the environment.
IRF rewards and champions best practice in river basin management through the International, Australian and European Riverprizes. From the Danube River in Europe, to the Mekong River in South-East Asia, and the St Johns River in the United States, the IRF has a far reaching network. IRF acts as a catalyst for replication of effective river system management around the world and promotes long term relationships between developed and developing countries around sustainable river system management.
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which has been a highlight of my trip so far. It was an amazing experience to see animals that I would never see anywhere else – koalas, kangaroos, platypus, and wombats. I made a new friend, Sheldon the koala.
I also got a chance to explore the Brisbane Riverfront area. I was impressed with the smart urban planning and use of green open spaces in the city and along the river. There were many people enjoying the outdoor space biking, running, hiking, kayaking, sailing and rock climbing. I really enjoyed seeing a community garden in the downtown area where anyone can go and pick fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs to take home with them.
My first full day at IRF was Monday, May 25 and I began by assisting the organization with a US contact database and writing a section about my work for their newsletter. While at IRF, I am working primarily with Melanie Ryan, International Programs Manager and Trish Dalby, Marketing and Communications Manager. Currently, they are busy preparing for their annual International RiverSymposium which will be held here in Brisbane in September.
Here is the IRF newsletter post about my project:
Introducing Sara Kane
Sara Kane is a visiting student from the United States and will be working for four weeks with IRF. Sara is completing her master’s degree at the University of South Florida’s Patel College of Global Sustainability in Tampa, Florida studying Global Sustainability with a concentration in water. The Patel College of Global Sustainability fosters sustainable urban communities and environments through collaborative research, education and community involvement. Its research generates innovations and new knowledge that will help cities around the world, including those in developing countries; reduce their ecological footprint while improving their form and function to make them healthier, more livable and resilient.
For the next few weeks, Sara will be working on her research paper and meeting with IRF partners. Sara’s research will focus on watershed management practices and policies in urban environments. She will be looking at best practices for river management and comparing U.S. case studies to Australia. She will be focusing on water quality improvement efforts in urban environments. Sara chose to work in Brisbane because of their water management efforts in a vibrant urban waterfront city. She hopes to gain knowledge about the similarities that Australia has to the Southwest Florida coast where she lives. She will also research IRF’s Riverprize award recipients from around the world to capture lessons that can be transferred to other watershed and river basin catchment organizations that are trying to improve habitat and water quality in rapidly growing cities.
“I am excited to make international connections with IRF and other organizations in Australia,” Sara says. “Brisbane is a well designed sustainable urban environment that values natural resources and its waterfront areas. I look forward to learning many best practices that I can share with my colleagues in the United States.”
Sara will be based with the IRF for the duration of her research. Additionally, she will be consulting extensively with different organizations in the region, including Healthy Waterways, the International WaterCentre, Queensland Government – Department of Environment & Heritage Protection, SeqWater and BMT WBM who are all sharing their local and global expertise and innovation with Sara.
In the afternoon, I was able to meet with two staff members from the Queensland Government -Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. Matthew Fullerton is the Manager for Reef Coordination and Partnerships in the Office of the Great Barrier Reef. He was able to give me information about water quality monitoring, modeling and recent report cards for the Great Barrier Reef catchment systems. At this stage, I am gathering information from others here for my comparison study of watershed management and policies in Southeast Queensland and Southwest Florida.