New projects: wildlife corridors, nature refuges

March 19, 2020

Endangered cassowaries and Mabi rainforests are the winners in four new projects for the Far North.

Terrain NRM has awarded grants to Barron Catchment Care, Kuranda Conservation, C4 and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service for work to extend wildlife corridors and create nature refuges.

Terrain’s Tony O’Malley said the $120,000 investment in rainforest restoration, protection and expansion was focused on land in the Kuranda, Tablelands, Innisfail and Tully regions.

“These projects are all in priority locations identified by the cassowary and Mabi recovery teams for revegetation, weed management and habitat protection,’’ he said. “The work will benefit a whole range of rainforest species because of the strategic locations.”

More than 100ha of private land on four properties in the Kuranda region’s Black Mountain Corridor will become nature refuges as part of the project. On the Tablelands, hundreds of trees will be planted to extend Mabi rainforest in a forestry lease area being transferred to national park, and in the Innisfail-Tully region highland-lowland wildlife corridors will be extended at Smith’s Gap and Eubenangee.

The projects are supported by Terrain NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Kuranda Conservation’s Jax Bergersen said her group would be working with landholders and Queensland Trust for Nature to create nature refuge agreements over large blocks of land in critical cassowary habitat.

“We are working to link a very narrow part of the Wet Tropics world heritage rainforest area with prime ecological blocks of land to make a wider cassowary corridor,’’ Ms Bergersen said. “We’ll be starting with four properties but there are another 20 in the wings thanks to the interest of landholders in this region.

“With ‘nature refuge’ status on land titles, rainforest can be better protected into the future. We’re aiming for a cassowary corridor stretching 100-200km from Julatten to the Barron Gorge National Park.”

C4 president Peter Rowles said his group would be revegetating another hectare of land on a property in the Smith’s Gap wildlife corridor near Tully, where more than 2000 rainforest trees have been planted since it was bought by C4 and Queensland Trust for Nature last year.

“For us it’s all about connecting national park on the eastern, western and southern sides,” he said.
In the Eubenangee Corridor project, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service will work with Mamu traditional owners to control weeds and revegetate former farmland that was added to the Eubenangee Swamp National Park in 2003.

Mr O’Malley said the Eubenangee area connected coastal and Tablelands habitat, and provided critical lowland climate refugia.

He said the fourth project, at Wongabel near Atherton, was a breakthrough for Barron Catchment Care.

“The community has been keen to undertake revegetation at Wongabel for many years and now leased land is being handed back to the State Government on the western side of Wongabel,’’ he said.

“The plan is to revegetate over a 10-year period and this funding is for the first tree-planting and weed management activities.”

Wadjanbarra Tableland Yidinji Aboriginal Corporation’s Lanora Miller said the Mabi-Wongabel project was a popular choice.

“As rainforest people we believe in revegetating our country and growing rainforest. This project ticks all the boxes,’’ she said.

Cassowary, Mabi and littoral rainforest recovery teams, and traditional owners, have helped to design and award the four grants, which are part of Terrain NRM’s ‘Building Rainforest Resilience’ project. More grants will be available next financial year.