Land bought for cassowaries

February 21, 2019

Australia’s longest coast-to-mountain rainforest corridor has expanded after conservation groups joined forces to buy land for cassowaries near Tully this week.

Queensland Trust for Nature and Mission Beach’s Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation (C4) have bought a property that borders national park in a wildlife corridor extending from the ocean to the Atherton Tableland mountaintops.

The Trust’s conservation manager Tanya Pritchard said it was critical cassowary habitat.

“This property will be protected as a nature refuge,’’ she said. “We can now start restoring the forest by planting over 10,000 trees to provide safe avenues for cassowary movement, and long-term homes for resident cassowaries.”

The former farming land, which includes remnant rainforest, is the third property that Queensland Trust for Nature has bought in the Mission Beach-Tully area over the past seven years.

Ms Pritchard said the Trust would work with C4 and Terrain NRM to revegetate sections, control weeds and secure ‘nature refuge’ status for the majority of the land.

C4 president Peter Rowles said he was encouraged by the level of community support.

“We rely on donations and many people from this region and beyond have helped to fund our part of this purchase,’’ he said. “The land will be up for sale again after the site is rehabilitated and protected forever as a nature refuge, with a residential envelope, giving us funds to purchase more cassowary habitat.”

Terrain NRM’s Tony O’Malley said the property, beside Old Tully Rd, was now part of the longest and widest east-west rainforest corridor in Australia, and the longest coast to mountaintop corridor.

“When this land came up for sale we took the Trust out to the site and presented the idea to the Cassowary Recovery Team, and everyone agreed it was a rare opportunity to connect protected areas,” he said.

“It’s 17ha and has national park and conservation park on three sides. With creeks and remnant vegetation as well it’s a perfect place to create new habitat.  This land becomes part of a significant biodiversity and wildlife corridor not just for the endangered southern cassowary but for many tropical rainforest plants and animals.”

Mr O’Malley said landholders were working with organisations in freehold sections of the Walter Hill Range corridor, including the Smiths Gap area between Feluga and El Arish where the land is situated.

“Smith’s Gap is split by roads and other development. Community groups, government of all levels and natural resource management organisations are working in partnership to revegetate priority areas, control weeds and design fauna crossing infrastructure,” he said.

This week’s land sale follows the declaration of a new nature refuge in Mission Beach last year following Queensland Trust for Nature and C4’s landmark buy-back of a 24-hectare property linking cassowary habitat eight years ago, and the more recent purchase of land beside the Tully-Mission Beach Rd for woodland nature refuges.