Get to know our team: Tessa Roberts

Today we're getting to know Conservation SA team member who brings her big expertise to help protect a tiny SA native bird: rockstar ecologist Tessa Roberts.


What’s your role at Conservation SA?

I’m the Fleurieu Swamps Project Officer. We work on the Fleurieu Swamps and Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren Recovery Program.

Tell us a bit about your project:

At the moment I’m working on collecting and distilling all the knowledge that the recovery program has amassed and worked on over the past 27 years! Our program started in 1993 and has achieved a lot over its lifetime, hosted here at the CCSA.

The program originally started to help the rare Mount Lofty Ranges Southern Emu-wren (bit of a mouthful!) which only exists on the Fleurieu Peninsula. The Recovery Team has successfully listed the Fleurieu Swamps (habitat of the emu-wren) as critically endangered back in 2003, which led to a lot of research, work with landholders, on-ground conservation work and creation of three new reserves, as well as a lot of conservation work for the emu-wrens.

What are you reading right now?

I am reading a book called Red Sand, Green Heart, which is about the ecological adventures of Aussie ecologist John Read in the outback. It’s full of cool stories and interesting facts.

Have any favourite quotes?

‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.’
-Chinese Proverb

'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.' — Margaret Mead

What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?

‘Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.’ – Michael Pollan

Who’s someone you really admire?

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, for his amazing science communication and practical common sense.

What’s your favourite Australian native animal?

The numbat! They are like Australia’s version of squirrels. Unfortunately, most exist only in fenced reserves now... and the Bilby (old nickname ‘Pinky’), they used to be plentiful around Adelaide. Did you know that’s why Pinky Flat near the Torrens is named so?

Oh and pygmy possums… they are so tiny and cute and still around in places like Deep Creek but you would never know it!

What’s your favourite place in SA?

I don’t think I can pick just one! It would have to be walking in Stringybark forest in Deep Creek, on top of St Mary’s Peak (Ngarri Mudlanha), Wilpena Pound in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges, or somewhere along the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail.

What’s been your proudest moment at Conservation SA?

I really enjoy going out in the field and am always proud to be part of the swamps team in the beautiful Fleurieu swamps. I remember when we visited a swamp after a prescribed burn a few years ago, and returned to check the recovery of the plants. It’s really interesting to see how the swamp plants quickly respond to properly timed burns and to see the rare plants coming up afterwards.

Learn more about our staff and executive team here


Support us and get involved

Contact Conservation SA on (08) 8223 5155, [email protected], or at our offices at the Joinery at 111 Franklin Street, Adelaide.

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