Landholders’ nature refuges for cassowaries

July 23, 2020

A groundswell of support for cassowaries has Kuranda landowners signing up for nature refuges to expand a 100km rainforest corridor.

Residents are banding together to help the endangered southern cassowary by forging voluntary conservation agreements to protect land into the future.

More than 115 hectares of rainforest could become four nature refuges after property assessments by the Queensland Trust for Nature this week, and dozens more landowners are poised to forge agreements.

The news comes in a year with 16 recorded cassowary deaths on roads across the Wet Tropics region, two of them in the Kuranda area.

Kuranda Conservation Community Nursery’s Jax Bergersen said a partnership with Terrain NRM and Queensland Trust for Nature was streamlining the conservation agreement process. Kuranda Conservation received funding from Terrain NRM earlier this year to cover the cost of nature refuge assessments for landholders wanting to place greater protections over their land.

“Through this project, we are aiming for 120 hectares of habitat protection on rural freehold properties with extensive cassowary habitat,’’ Ms Bergersen said. “The long-term goal is for nature refuges all along the existing world-heritage cassowary corridor.”

She said the world heritage rainforest was at its narrowest – just two to three kilometres - in the Kuranda region. And it was intersected by roads including the busy Kuranda Range Rd.

“Linking world heritage rainforest areas with prime ecological blocks of land is a way forward, along with the revegetation work that’s been happening for decades in this region,” she said.

Property owner Di Daniels described this week’s nature refuge assessment on her 97-acre rainforest block as “a dream come true”.

“We live in beautiful rainforest with cassowaries and many other native animals and birds,’’ she said. “We’re really privileged to be living in this environment. We want to make sure the rainforest is conserved after we’re gone.’’

The Daniels’ land adjoins world heritage areas. It is considered prime cassowary habitat and ideal for the beginnings of a wider wildlife corridor.

Terrain NRM’s Tony O’Malley said the grant for Kuranda Conservation was part of larger ‘Rebuilding Rainforest Resilience’ project including revegetation work, a landholder incentives program, community grants and ways to reduce cassowary deaths and injuries on roads. This project is supported by Terrain NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Mr O’Malley said nature refuges were a voluntary conservation agreement between landholders and the Queensland Government which conserved the land’s significant cultural and natural resources while allowing compatible and sustainable land uses. They also covered future landowners

“A lot of important Wet Tropics habitat is actually on private land,’’ he said. “These are voluntary agreements for people who want to ensure habitat or corridors for threatened species are protected for future generations, so we are more than happy to help out.”

For more information about voluntary conservation agreements, see these factsheets. Landholders can also contact Jax Bergersen on 4093 8834 or Tony O’Malley on 0437 728 190.