Community planning for Kuranda Tree Frog survival

September 20, 2017

Kuranda Tree Frog by Rhys Sharry

Kuranda Tree Frog - photo by Rhys Sharry

A community-led action plan is being developed to help protect the critically endangered Kuranda Tree Frog (Litoria myola).

More than 40 community members, Djabaguy people, local and state government representatives, research institutions and natural resource management all came together to put their ideas on the table at a workshop hosted by Kuranda Envirocare, and facilitated by Terrain NRM.

A working group was formed at the meeting and will prepare a draft community-led action plan.

This is great news for the endemic amphibian, which needs all the help it can get. The Kuranda Tree Frog is only found in rainforest near slow-moving streams in the Kuranda and Myola area. It occupies an area estimated to be about 3.5km2 – that’s not much bigger than Fitzroy Island.

Threats to the Kuranda Tree Frog’s survival include habitat loss and changes in water flow. This is mainly due to land clearing for development. Species hybridisation also affects the Kuranda Tree Frog, and to top it off it is susceptible to an exotic froggy fungus called Chytridiomycosis, which invades the surface layers of the frog’s skin.

Conservation efforts undertaken to date have included habitat restoration and riparian corridor linkage of breeding habitat areas. Kuranda Envirocare have supported community awareness campaigns, including a frog friendly property registration that's similar to Land for Wildlife.

Workshop participants developed goals and priority actions for four different activity areas that will contribute to the frog’s protection: knowledge and science, planning and policy, community engagement and on-ground habitat works.

Kuranda EnviroCare’s Cathy Retter said she was delighted to have so many people attend. “Some solid goals and action statements were developed. This isn’t an overnight fix, though. We’ll be working towards 10-year goals like entire habitat restoration for the Kuranda Tree Frog, with fully connected 100m-wide riparian corridors along all creeks”.

Alistair Freeman is from the Aquatic Species Group, at the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. He said, “This community-led action plan has a good chance of producing positive results for the Kuranda Tree Frog because of the enthusiastic and committed local community behind its development. The development of such a plan is also helped considerably by the support of frog scientist Dr Conrad Hoskin."

A final draft of the action plan will be ready before June 2018. It will be available for download from the Kuranda Envirocare website.