$330,000 for Woodlands project

February 7, 2019

The Wet Tropics’ endangered mahogany glider will be better protected through a $330,000 project, announced this week.

The Australian Government is funding an initiative that includes tree planting in mahogany glider areas to link wildlife corridors, and the beginnings of a population-monitoring program for a species that only exists in northern Queensland and has been listed as endangered since it was discovered in 1989.

The last population estimate found just 1500 to 2000 mahogany gliders remained in the wild.

“That was back in 2010 before Cyclone Yasi wreaked havoc on glider habitat in the Tully and Cardwell area,’’ Terrain NRM’s Jacqui Diggins said.

“We still don’t know the effect on the population and sightings have always been limited because gliders are nocturnal.  What we do know, thanks to monitoring cameras, is they’ve been using pole crossings above some roads for the last five or more years.  There have also been sightings, unfortunately of dead mahogany gliders, on fences with barbed top-wires.”

The new “Biodiversity Bright Spots” project, funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, will also help to protect broad-leafed tea tree woodlands and ant plants.

Mrs Diggins said Terrain NRM would work in partnership with researchers from James Cook University, the Mahogany Glider Recovery Team and Girringun Aboriginal rangers.

“Less than 50 per cent of the original glider habitat remains today, and it’s badly fragmented as a result of clearing,’’ she said.  “This project includes a weed control program and improvements to fire management regimes.  We are hoping it’ll lay the foundations for a longer-term program.”

Mahogany Glider Recovery Team member Daryl Dickson welcomed the announcement, saying the project was a good fit with a new national recovery plan for mahogany gliders that was in its final stages.

“We now have the best mapping we’ve ever had for glider habitat, which will help to prioritise areas for the revegetation work,” she said.  “We know very little about glider population trends and that’s part of the science that underpins long-term conservation of a species.”

For more information about the new ‘Biodiversity Bright Spots - Tackling Woodland Threats’ program, contact Terrain NRM’s Jacqui Diggins on 0457 577 955.