Sadly, much of the original art of Aboriginal Australians is being lost as a result of exposure to adverse environmental conditions, vandalism and cultural disruption. Interpretation of the art sites, especially those on the east coast, is fragmented and may never be fully understood. What does remain is testament to a long and rich cultural identity that is just starting to infiltrate our stubborn European ethos. The vast majority of the drawings executed in the age of discovery and exploration of Terra Australis remain in museums around the world. Whether they were originally executed as an aid to military espionage, navigational charts, scientific documentation or the observations and jottings of untrained artists, these drawings recording Australia's unique landscapes, flora and fauna collectively represent the earliest European cultural history of Australia. Today all over the country organisations such as Rivercare and Landcare endeavour to moderate the exploitation of Australia's natural resources. The terms 'land literacy' and 'reading the land' attest to the importance of our need to comprehend and acknowledge what is happening in the natural world around us. Like many concerned about the fragility of our environment, I see the importance of community education in the monitoring and recording of the natural environment as an integral part in nurturing the land and ourselves and in the formulation and implementation of regional environmental strategies.
The Airs Waters Places Transdisciplinary Conference on Ecosystem Health in Australia. Proceedings of the Airs Waters Places Transdisciplinary Conference on Ecosystem Health in Australia (Callaghan, N.S.W. 14-16 April, 2003) p. 224-238