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French film crew puts Wombat Forest project on world stage

Tuesday 25 March 2015

Media release

French documentary makers will film the work of local 'citizen scientists' monitoring native animals in the Wombat Forest on Sunday 29 March, giving the Caught on Camera community project a global profile.

The filming is part of the fifth season of 'Nature's Keepers', a documentary that explores nature conservation issues and environmental stewardship by following the daily work of scientists around the world. It is aired in France by Films Concept Associés but reaches a wider global audience.

"The Wombat Forest is a wonderful place to explore and we are excited by the prospect of getting global attention, especially from the French speaking world," said Wombat Forestcare's Gayle Osborne.

Caught on Camera is community-based citizen science project where volunteers use motion-sensing cameras to monitor wildlife. It is a partnership between the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) and local community group Wombat Forestcare, and was established to explore the response of small mammals to fire in the Wombat State Forest.

"Caught on Camera volunteers use motion-sensing cameras to collect scientific data that can be used to understand the effects of fire on small mammals," said Ms Osborne.

"The project started in 2012 and Wombat Forestcare and the VNPA hope it will continue for at least a decade, collecting important and lacking long-term data about the impacts of fire.

"While it's too early to tell what effect fire is having on the critters of the Wombat Forest, the project has already had some exciting finds. We have photographed the threatened Brush-tailed Phascogale and established its presence in the southern section of the Wombat State Forest, an area for which there was previously no current records."

Volunteers of all ages have been fascinated by the thousands of photographs taken so far that showcase a range of small mammals such as wombats, possums, wallabies and the tiny antechinus - a small, carnivorous, mouse-like animal that preys on invertebrates.

The VNPA's NatureWatch coordinator Caitlin Griffith works closely with volunteers, and says the chance to share their story with the world is a unique opportunity.

"The Caught on Camera project is collecting important scientific data. But as well as that, it provides community volunteers a chance to see what the native animals of Wombat Forest get up to when no-one is watching," she said.

"The local community is excited by the photographs they collect, and this is a great opportunity to share our study with an international audience and raise the profile of the wombat forest and the region," she said.