Emus are an iconic Australian creature. They even appear on the coat of arms of Australia and of the Tasmanian capital, Hobart. So, many Australians might be surprised to learn the last wild emus in Tasmania were exterminated around a century and a half ago.

And there’s little doubt hunting by British colonists drove the Tasmanian emu to extinction, as Tristan Derham and his colleagues explain. Their research also shows much of the island state still has enough good, safe emu habitat to make reintroducing the giant birds, a strategy known as rewilding, a realistic option.

Rewilding is not just a sentimental gesture to restore species to their former homes. It’s also a way to increase the resilience of ecosystems in which those species once played an important role. In the case of emus, they distribute the seeds of many plants far and wide. That’s because they swallow all kinds of seeds and later excrete many of them still intact in a nutritious ‘poo compost’ that improves germination.

In a time of climate change, when plant species need to be able to disperse to new, cooler zones to ensure their survival, the return of the emu to Tasmania has gained added urgency.

John Watson

Cities Editor and Deputy Energy + Environment Editor

They’re on our coat of arms but extinct in Tasmania. Rewilding with emus will be good for the island state’s ecosystems

Tristan Derham, University of Tasmania; Christopher Johnson, University of Tasmania; Matthew Fielding, University of Tasmania

Tasmania’s emus were hunted to extinction in the mid-1800s but we could have them back – and their return could help other species survive climate change.

The Australian National Anthem has a big problem – the average Aussie can’t sing it in tune

Wendy Hargreaves, University of Southern Queensland

The ‘joyful strains’ of our anthem are often just strained.

Why Russia’s war in Ukraine today is so different from a year ago

Alexander Hill, University of Calgary

Russia’s army in Ukraine is fighting a much more artillery-intensive and methodical war than it was almost a year ago.

War leaves a toxic legacy that lasts long after the guns go quiet. Can we stop it?

Stacey Pizzino, The University of Queensland; Jo Durham, Queensland University of Technology; Michael Waller, The University of Queensland

Chemical weapons and toxins are still being used in current wars. Without action, ecosystems and people are at risk.

Is your child anxious about starting school? The approaches we use for children with disability can help all families

Bethany Devenish, Monash University; Ana Mantilla, Monash University; Nicole Rinehart, Monash University

These tips can help children who are feeling anxious about the transition to school or going back after the holidays.

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Dr Caroline West, University of Sydney

Tantrums and overflowing nappies are no fun. But happiness is more than a bunch of pleasant feelings, as influential philosophers have argued.

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Johanna Reidy, University of Otago

As the start of the school year looms, school uniform prices will be front-of-mind for many families already facing a cost of living crisis. What can be done to reduce the burden?

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