Rainforest corridor’s restoration – Walter Hill Range

September 4, 2018

Hundreds of people are restoring an important rainforest corridor linking the coast at Mission Beach with the southern Tablelands mountaintops.

The Walter Hill Range wildlife corridor is Australia’s longest and widest east-west rainforest corridor, crossing diverse climates from coastal lowlands to highland forests at Mt Hypipamee near Ravenshoe.

Terrain NRM’s Tony O’Malley said more than 30 organisations were working to help protect, restore and connect habitat.

“This is a significant biodiversity and wildlife corridor for many tropical rainforest plants and animals, including the endangered southern cassowary,’’ Mr O’Malley said.

“With a hotter or drier climate in the future, it becomes even more important as a route lowland species could use to access rainforest habitat on the Atherton Tablelands.

“Groups are already expanding upland rainforest habitat and that’s great to see because upland species have nowhere higher to go with hotter temperatures.”

Terrain NRM has launched an online Walter Hill Range ‘story map’ site including maps, stakeholder information, a history of the hill range and its revegetation works, successful partnerships and contact details for those interested in helping with the corridor project.

Mr O’Malley said most of the Walter Hill Range corridor was national park but there were critical sections, including ‘Lot 66’ at Mission Beach and the Smiths Gap area between Feluga and El Arish, where landholders were working with organisations.

“Smith’s Gap is a valley in the corridor with lots of creeks, making it a great spot for wildlife moving through the area,’’ he said.

“But it is also split by roads and other development. Community groups, all tiers of government and natural resource management people are working in partnership to revegetate priority areas, control weeds and design fauna crossing infrastructure there.”

Trees for Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands (TREAT) spokesperson Angela McCaffrey said tree plantings were also happening in the western reaches of a corridor that was a vital vegetation, altitudinal and climatic link between the Tablelands and the Coast.

Mission Beach's C4 president Peter Rowles said partnerships were working well.

"It's really good that we have a wide geographical spread of groups from the coast to Tablelands working together strategically to create this worthwhile corridor,'' he said.

The Walter Hill Range initiative has involved community groups, philanthropists, scientists and researchers, traditional owners, the tourism and agricultural industries, and federal, state and local government departments. It has been supported through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

To learn more about the corridor and opportunities to help with the project, ring Terrain NRM on 4043 8000 and visit the Walter Hill Range online Story Maps in the Mapping section of the Wet Tropics Plan website at www.wettropicsplan.org.au. Use this link.

Did you know?
The Walter Hill Range is named after Queensland’s first colonial botanist, who collected native plants along the north-east coast including Mt Bellenden Ker, Mossman, the Daintree and Cape York. Walter Hill also worked on acclimatising exotic plant species in Queensland. He introduced sugarcane and established that the juice of Queensland-grown cane could be successfully granulated, opening up a new farming crop for Queensland. He was responsible for the introduction of mango, pawpaw, ginger, tamarind, arrowroot, cotton and mahogany.