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COOPER’s SUBMISSION: Review of Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

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The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, plays a significant role in the protection and management of our environment and heritage. It operates within a broader context, alongside other Commonwealth laws and activities and those of state, territory and local governments. The activities of businesses, land managers and the community are also central to achieving environmental outcomes.

The EPBC Act requires that an independent review be undertaken at least once every ten years. The review must examine the operation of the Act and the extent to which its objects have been achieved. The last review was completed in 2009.


Victoria’s response to this review that follows comments on the potential acute and long term affects of environmental damage to the very substance that makes up our planet: land, water and sky.

Victoria Cooper in the field ....PHOTO: Doug Spowart

A reflective Victoria Cooper in the field ….PHOTO: Doug Spowart


The importance of Microbial life in the protection of, and biodiversity conservation in, the Australian environment.

My background in science is at a technical level working in both Human and Plant Pathology. I have also completed a PhD where my research examined the communication of freshwater issues in Australia and focussed on the interplay of cultural and creative visual narratives with a science project on aquatic fungi. This research brought together both my current practice in the visual arts and my past experience in science.

In my work I have witnessed the power of microbes as they shape our corporeal and environmental ecologies. When any of our physical systems become unbalanced or neglected these unseen co-inhabitants can become pathogenic impacting on our health and that of the planet. Alternatively if these organisms are lost from the many systems they support – life will cease to exist. For example a forest without fungi and bacteria, dead material would not be decomposed and recycled to renew the land.


My response to this review comments on the potential acute and long term affects of environmental damage to the very substance that makes up our planet: land, water and sky.

My concern is that this review is not addressing the following:

  1. The creation of a researchable archive on the renewable and sustainable effects of any impact on any microbiological agent. For example the change to the natural microbial community and populations on soil health from removing native grasses, or deforestation of old growth habitat; or the affects on the microbial environment in drying-out of critical wetlands that are drained and not replenished when water is available. If we create an imbalance in the microsphere, this will continue throughout the entire system.
  1. Create more professional and academic avenues of research to highlight the importance of a cross-discipline collaborative intelligence in this archive.

2.1 By including and financially supporting more broadly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Indigenous knowledge and experience;

2.2 Australia government initiatives and entrepreneurship for Research and Development into innovative forms of Sustainable and Renewable technology to provide new ways to live with, know and imagine the unique Australian microbiota; and

2.3 Recognizing the urgency with which this action is needed for this work to be undertaken.

The ecology of the micro-environment has developed over many millennia from the beginning of life on Earth. Micro-organisms are in every part of our existence: in and on our bodies, the air we breathe, the food we eat, our soils and waterways. Australia has uniquely developed systems that support our diverse and rich geology, flora and fauna.


The interconnected relationships of micro to macro need to be well understood, protected and maintained in order to continue to sustain life’s balance.



Victoria Cooper PhD


A copy of the EPBC ACT REVIEW Document can be downloaded – Click this link:  epbc_act_review_discussion_paper_0


Some of Victoria’s visual research work relating to the ideas embodied above…

Vicky’s a page from the The River book

Documentation of a page from the book The Island

A double-page spread from the artists’ book Being Present















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