23 April 2014

Adelaide and the Adelaide park landsThe secret to a long and healthy life could be on our very own door step, according to some of the state’s leading experts in environmental science and architecture.

The concept of spending time in nature and reconnecting with our built heritage in order to benefit our overall wellbeing will be the focus of a public lecture at the University of South Australia this week.

UniSA research fellow Dr Philip Roetman and architect and Adelaide City Councillor Sandy Wilkinson will both speak at the Successful Ageing Seminar: Adelaide’s riches: making the most of our abundant natural and cultural heritage on April 24.

Dr Roetman will discuss the notion of biophilia - the affinity humans have with nature – and explore ways people can connect with the great outdoors.  

“Embracing our natural and cultural heritage has the potential to greatly enhance our lives through a better connection and appreciation of our surroundings,” Dr Roetman says.

“Research indicates that the more time we take to savour, engage and connect with our surrounding environment, the healthier and happier we become.

“My research explores people’s attitudes to nature and endeavors to get more people connecting with the natural environment. We don’t need to all rush out and hug a tree but we can make space in our lives every day to see, hear, touch or smell the plants, animals and landscape around us.”

Based at UniSA’s Barbara Hardy Institute, Dr Roetman says citizen science is a fantastic way to get people involved in the natural world. This year, he will lead several BioBlitz events, which are intense periods of biological surveying that attempt to record all the living species within a designated area, and he is calling on members of the public to take part. 

“We are holding two 24-hour BioBlitz events over two weekends in August, with hands-on and educational activities in two parks in Adelaide,” Dr Roetman says.

“The BioBlitzes will begin on Friday afternoon with activities for school students. The wider community will then be able to participate in night-time activities, searching for local nocturnal wildlife.

“The events will culminate with a Saturday morning festival. Participants will be able to assist scientists in data collection, attend workshops and visit stalls with information about the natural history of the local area.”

Meanwhile in his part of the seminar, architect and town planner Wilkinson will be encouraging the audience to think about the built spaces around them. 

“Adelaide’s greatest assets are its beautiful historic buildings, which should be protected for the sake of the city’s appeal and future generations to enjoy,” Wilkinson says.

“Architecture plays an important role in establishing our sense of place, history and identity, and the value of passing on historical knowledge to the next generation.”

This free public event will take place on Thursday, 24 April from 2pm – 4pm in lecture theatre BH2-09 in the Barbara Hanrahan Building, UniSA City West campus. To register, leave a message by phone on 8302 0160 or email giving@unisa.edu.au.

For more information on UniSA citizen science projects go to: www.unisa.edu.au/citizenscience

Contact for interview Philip Roetman office 8302 1081 email Philip.Roetman@unisa.edu.au

Media Contact Rosanna Galvin office (08) 8302 0578 mobile 0434 603 457 email rosanna.galvin@unisa.edu.au


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