Lessons to be learned from epic journey
A SPELLBOUND audience of several hundred keen environmentalists sat in hushed awe as keynote speaker Tim Cope concluded his epic tale at the 2015 Sunshine Coast Conservation Forum yesterday.
They had just been taken on a journey with Mr Cope as he recounted his three-and-a-half year voyage on horseback from Mongolia to Hungary.
Mr Cope told the audience he had planned to only be away from home for 18 months, but difficulty crossing borders with horses and the death of his father in Australia prolonged the trip.
When he finally ended his journey, Mr Cope said he had looked into the Danube River, and the river had looked back as if to say, "What took you so long?".
A central character in Mr Cope's story was his dog Tigon and, after a Dorothy Dixer question about the hound from the audience, Tigon leapt on to the stage to a round of applause.
But what does a trek through the steppes of Central Asia and Eastern Europe have to do with conservation on the Sunshine Coast?
Mr Cope said it was all about how a community learned to use its environment sustainably.
He said devastating environmental damage had been inflicted on the steppes due to seemingly minor changes to the natural landscape.
"The relevance is to do with community - on the steppes, working together, hospitality, looking after each other, sharing each other's stories, sharing each other's knowledge is (vital) for survival," he said.
"Without that sense of community, life wouldn't be possible. One of the things I've learned is that it's a universal truth that if we're going to live sustainably into the future, we need to find a way to engage harmoniously with the landscape. That doesn't mean necessarily locking everything up.
"That just means engaging with the landscape in a way that's going to work."
The forum was funded from the Sunshine Coast Regional Council's Environment Levy as a thank-you to volunteers and members of the council's environmental programs. Other speakers included Frances Guard, who discussed her discoveries in the world of fascinating fungi, and Associate Professor Adam Polkinghorne, who spoke about fighting disease in koalas.