End of Year Wrapup

As 2009 rolls to an end, it’s an opportune time for us to review the year… so here goes.

We had several staff changes during 2009.  Corinne and Mel joined us as full time staff, with Corinne coming on board to help with the management of the office, and Mel joining us as a GIS analyst.  During the year, Tim Carpenter left us to pursue his career elsewhere – and to do a lot of triathlons – and was replaced by Anthony (AJ).  Ryan also left us and he will be replaced – starting at Rottnest Island on Thursday with our end of year day trip – with Ben K.  With the continuation of our scholarship with the GIS department at Curtin University, Matt also joined us as the scholarship recipient for the year.  Tom joined us late in the year to help with our upcoming training facility (stay tuned for details in 2010) and Earth 2.0, which continues to be developed and will be re-released in the new year.  Everyone that has been involved in the company this year has brought something special with them, and it’s been great to have so much contribution from the team here.
Ryan, Mel, Andrew and Piers at the WA Museum

Ryan, Mel, Andrew and Piers at the WA Museum on a tour
Project-wise, we had some really challenging, rewarding and enjoyable projects completed this year.  The biggest was the South-West Ecoregion of Australia Initiative project, where Mel, Akeal and myself spent a lot of time coming to grips with the biodiversity of the south-west of Western Australia, and helping our project leaders, WWF Australia and the Department of Environment and Conservation, come up with a systematic conservation plan for the region.  This was only just completed, with the final report being delivered to the federal government in early December.  It was a massive learning curve project for us, with us being exposed to Marxan for the first time – and was one of the most rewarding projects we’ve worked on.

Our work with Rio Tinto continued (for the fourth year!) on with their environmental data, as we continue to compile their data for the Pilbara into one massive datastore.  There’s over 3,500 reports captured during this project, or over 50GB of data captured.  Andrew gave a presentation on this work at the WALIS forum this year.  It’s been a great relationship working with Rio Tinto – we also do things like help with their Birdwatch event (where I volunteer my time, and the use of some of our gear), but also a range of other projects with them, like training, analysis work and so on.  This is set to continue into 2010, as well.

We also participated in a range of projects with other institutions, including;

  • Continuing our work with the Western Australian Museum and Western Australian Herbarium, supporting some of the vital infrastructure that underpins environmental research in Western Australia,
  • Once again assisting Newcrest Mining’s Telfer site with their annual disturbance mapping, for the fourth year in a row – it’s pretty cool to be able to see changes across the site over the four years of work we’ve done – all using different imagery sources as the prices and quality of those fluctuate,
  • Working with the Earthwatch Institute, where we created the biological data recording system in their Climatewatch project, which enables the public to be involved in climate change science by submitting records of the indicator species that they see, and
  • Developing weed standards for BHP Billiton, so that their data can be collected in a standard format and used in their corporate GIS, including on some of the PDA units that we have supplied to them.

A lot of my time in the last few months has been spent with the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA), working out plans for their citizen science activities and participating in a lot of workshops and planning sessions for the next few years.  The ALA is one of the projects we’ll be working on in 2010, along with the redevelopment of species based observation databases for the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.  Both of these projects are in Canberra with the federal government, and are exciting projects that we’re really looking forward to participating in.
As I mentioned earlier, we also went back to the WALIS Forum this year, and Andrew and AJ headed east to the FOSS4G conference in Sydney.  Both of these were great conferences for us for different reasons – WALIS was a great chance to catch up with our clients, colleagues and friends, and FOSS4G was a great source of knowledge – so much so that AJ and Andrew are now working towards complete redevelopment of our infrastructure with a LOT of open source tools.

Andrew at our stand at WALIS
Personally, I travelled a lot this year, mainly for work, but also for my wedding (which is of course, my own personal highlight).  I was recently alerted to Openflights.org by Chris Freeland’s recent blog post.  I jumped on to the site, and, with the help of my trusty wall calendar, my Outlook calendar and a judicial amount of memory, within 20 minutes I’d logged my flights for the year.  The results for 2009 are in:

  • 34 segments,
  • 4 days, 22 hours and 4 minutes in planes,
  • Equaling 81,566 km,
  • which is 2.04 times around the world.


Interestingly, in all that I only went to two countries – which indicates how big Australia really is.  You can jump onto Openflights and see my flights here.  Every single one of those flights was offset for carbon emissions through either the carrier, or Carbon Neutral in the early stages of this year.

We continued to do our bit for the environment again this year.  We still provide discounts to organizations that undertake environmental research or conservation activities, and donated over $75,000 this year via those discounts.  As well, we continued our use of 100% Natural Power, purchasing recycled stationery, bought lower energy use PCs, and also used Carbon Neutral to catch the leftovers (and do our Christmas cards).  Apart from my ongoing use of the Solio charger, AJ also knocked up a small solar system in my office – it works like a treat with the afternoon sun on it.  We’re going to be looking more into renewable technologies in 2010, too.

AJ’s solar kit on my desk
2010… so what will it bring for us? It will be a really interesting year, I think.  Some of the big projects we’ve got starting after the break will be really challenging – but also very rewarding for us.  I’m really looking forward to the break over the festive season to recharge to get ready for the new year.
And finally – a big thank you to our clients, suppliers, colleagues and friends.  Without the support of all of these people, Gaia Resources wouldn’t be where it is today – so thanks from all of us here.  Look forward to seeing you all in 2010.

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