Chris and Len have a history of endurance adventures including ultra marathons, adventure races and together in 2010, a kayak crossing of Bass Strait. They undertake these adventures to break out of their everyday synchrony, exceed their perceived limits and to feed their paleolithic, caveman instincts.

This adventure is inspired by the Westfield Sydney to Melbourne races held between 1983 and 1991, at the time, one of the toughest in the world. The idea to follow in these footsteps will however only be 3 weeks old when Chris and Len set-off. But an inspiring idea and two weeks of annual leave is an opportunity, by their own account, not to be lost.

Lastly, please consider these two thoughts: 1. the loss of biodiversity on Earth threatens life as we know it - it threatens supplies of fresh water, food, medicine, clothing, housing and the viability of oxygen-producing forests. 2. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew predict that one fifth of all plant species are at imminent risk of extinction. Chris and Len, both with science background are really hoping to make a positive impact on this situation. They seeking to use their love of adventure to raise a very modest $2,000 needed to save one of Australia’s rarest plant and one they will pass near on the Hume Highway, the Grevillea iaspicula. Please see sidebar to read more about the Royal Botanic Gardens ‘Save a Species’ initiative and help them :)

Friday, 24 June 2011

Press release from Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney

An endangered wetland plant will be the second species to be protected from extinction by the 900 kilometre run of Chris Turnbull and Len Gervay from Sydney to Melbourne to ‘Save a Species’.
Chris Turnbull said, “There are currently 608 plants on the threatened species list of New South Wales. That’s more than ten percent of the State’s flora.
“Our Save a Species run has already received enough donations for the NSW Seedbank to collect and preserve seeds of the critically endangered Wee Jasper Grevillea.
“As we approach the halfway point of our journey we are within $100 of the funds needed to also protect Carex klaphakei, a swamp grass found in the Southern Highlands, an area we have just run through, and in the Blue Mountains.
NSW Seedbank Natural Heritage Manager Peter Cuneo said, “Carex klaphakei is only known from three locations and has become endangered through runoff from urban sites, grazing and trampling by stock, and sand mining.
“Wetlands are the biological keystones of the landscape. Their sedge grasses, such as the Carex klaphakei, help filter and retain the water that is essential for life, stabilise the soil and provide habitat for reptiles, birds and insects.”
Len Gervay said, “Chris and I are civil engineers so we look at wetlands as basic infrastructure for the planet’s biodiversity. Swamp grasses aren’t glamorous but nor are railway ties or road base and you don’t build railtracks or roads without them. The swamp grasses play a similar critical role in the infrastructure of our natural systems.”
The two runners admit to bouts of extreme exhaustion but mental and physical support has come in many forms. Andrew Bowman, a farrier (horse shoer) and TAFE teacher of Corroyong, Victoria, leapt from his car and handed the keys to the support crew before joining the runners on foot for the next 40 kilometres of the day.
Mr Bowman said, “Watching is no substitute. I wanted to be out there with them. What they are doing is absolutely fantastic. Their journey on foot between the two premier cities of Australia to save our species takes the notion of pilgrimage to another level.”
Every $2000 raised by the Sydney to Melbourne run covers the cost of the NSW Seedbank collecting and preserving seeds of one native plant species.
In Australia there are 25,000 species of plants and at least 23 per cent are at risk of extinction. The NSW Seedbank at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, is targeting plants most at risk from climate change and human activities to ensure blueprints contained in plant DNA aren’t lost forever.
The Carex Klaphakei was discovered less than 20 years ago by amateur naturalist Van Klaphake and described in 1996 by Dr Karen Wilson of the National Herbarium of NSW, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.

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