TREAT Newsletter Wet Season January - March 2007

Planting Season

Date

Location

Collaboration

No of Trees

Jan 26 Fri 7:30am Barron River - Dalip's BRICMA/ CVA/ TREAT 3,000
Feb 3 Sat 8am Peterson Creek (1) - Williams' TREAT /QPWS 2,500
Feb 17 Sat 8am Peterson Creek (2) - Williams' TREAT /QPWS 2,500
Feb 24 Sat 7:30am Barron River - Bonadio's MFRT/ ESCRU 3,000
Mar 3 Sat 8am Peterson Creek (3) - Williams' TREAT /QPWS 2,500
Mar 10 Sat 7:30am Barron River - Picnic Crossing MFRT/ ESCRU 3,000
Mar 24 Sat 8am Massey Creek - Ravenshoe QPWS/ TREAT 1,500
Apr 14 Sat 8am Lake Barrine (roadside) QPWS/ TREAT 2,000

Funding:

Dalip's is from BRICMA's Green Corridor

Peterson Creek is from NHT through FNQ NRM Ltd

Bonadio's is from NHT through Envirofund

Picnic Crossing is from Landcare for Larry and Atherton Shire Council

Organisations:

BRICMA - Barron River Integrated Catchment Management Association

CVA - Conservation Volunteers Australia

TREAT- Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands

QPWS - Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service

MFRT - Mabi Forest Recovery Team

ESCRU - Eacham Shire Council Revegetation Unit


Inside this issue

How Times Change!

Land for Wildlife

Vegetation Incentives Program

Nature Assist

Incentive Schemes

Wildlife-friendly Fencing

Cassowary in Atherton

Nursery News

Fruit Collection Diary

Kids Page

Find the Words


How Times Change!

Graham Harrington

Why did about 1,500ha of freehold forest in the upper Johnstone River catchment remain uncleared despite the government requirement in early days to clear the land to retain ownership of it? It would take considerable research to answer that question for every block. Barry Pember, who purchased about 700ha on Seamark Road in 1974, thought the steepness of the slopes was the underlying reason.

However, difficult access didn't stop this area being logged, a process which probably started during or after the Second World War. I understand the loggers had to use complicated cable and winch mechanisms and block and tackle to hoist the huge logs up onto the ridges. They obviously didn't devastate the forest because Barry was able to make a living from a small sawmill right up to recent times and his land is still able to boast that it retains essential forest values. Of course most of the larger trees were removed but the canopy cover was maintained and casual damage kept to a minimum by careful effort, and probably no animal or plant has gone extinct in the area.

We bought into the area in 1987 and established "Barne's Pikle" Nature Refuge. Sam Dansie told me that the lot next door to ours was unallocated Crown Land until 1977. The Lands Department decided to sell it and arranged for it to be logged by the Forestry Department before they did so. Sam tried to get the area preserved for posterity but to no avail. It was logged to prescription and then sold. Imagine the value which would be placed on 80ha of pristine Type 5a Complex Notophyll Vine Forest (RE 7.8.4) today! What an opportunity missed! Recently this same lot was intensively logged by a new owner and then resold. Fortunately it was purchased by Dave Hudson and Robyn Land, who have declared it "Cloudland" Nature Refuge under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992. They have begun the process of revegetating with local native species and controlling erosion on the logging tracks. The forest will take a few hundred years to recover but at least the Hudsons have started it on the journey.

After failed attempts to sell his land to the State Government, Barry Pember recently sold seven blocks of land in this forest complex. He held out until he got buyers who would preserve the rainforest. Three blocks are now protected under Nature Refuge (NR) Agreements: "Cloudland" NR, "Pember's Scrub" NR (owned by the Queensland Trust for Nature) and "Wundajilla Forest"" NR. Along with our "Barne's Pikle" NR, there is now a 268ha contiguous block of this threatened highland vine forest protected in perpetuity. There are another three Nature Refuges in the Turner Road/ Kenny Road area to the south: "Sweetwater Valley" NR, "Dirran Creek" NR and "Ringtail Crossing" NR. Only the McCaffrey's "Rintail Crossing" NR connects the northern Nature Refuges with the southern protected EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estate. This link varies in its canopy status but the McCaffreys are revegetating to restore this forest link with the World Heritage rainforest over Dirran Creek to the south. Through this year's QPWS (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service) NatureAssist program, another three property owners are expected to proceed with Nature Refuge Agreements in the near future. This will protect a further 370ha. The ecological integrity of the area needs some strategic replanting to reduce the very high edge to area ratio and to improve connectivity so that animals can easily move across the whole area. Our group of landholders are just about to undertake a formal botanical survey to underpin future revegetation. We want to make sure we plant "the right trees in the right place"!

Despite logging and clearing, the forest still retains apparently healthy populations of Cassowaries, Lumholtz Tree-kangaroos and five species of Possum. Dingoes regularly kill the Tree-kangaroos unfortunately. Until recently there have been no pigs in this forest (why ever not?) but I am told they have appeared since Cyclone Larry. Musky Rat-kangaroos are also absent.

All thirteen of the endemic Wet Tropics bird species occur in this forest (see footnote).

Golden, Satin and Tooth-billed Bowerbirds are all doing well, although this year they appear to be inhibited by the aftermath of Cyclone Larry. Many bowers are poorly maintained or abandoned. It will be interesting to see if they return to normal this year.

The cyclone was reasonably kind to us. There was plenty of damage of course but the structure of the forest is largely intact and the young trees are responding to the extra light by very rapid growth. Nature is always interesting if a bit savage!

We have entered a new era of forest management in our area. The emphasis has shifted from timber getting to nature conservation. It represents a philosophical revolution.

Map of Nature Refuge properties in the Upper Johnstone River area

Footnote: Endemic Wet Tropics bird species are: Lesser Sooty Owl, Australian Fernwren, Mountain Thornbill, Macleay's Honeyeater, Bridled Honeyeater, Grey-headed Robin, Chowchilla, Bower's Shrike-thrush, Pied Monarch, Victoria's Riflebird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Golden Bowerbird, Atherton Scrubwren.


Land For Wildlife

The Importance of Nature Conservation on Private Land

Lesley Hale

Over the past 200 years, 17 mammal species (out of about 270), and a further 10 subspecies, are thought to have become extinct in continental Australia. Fewer than 25 species are believed to have become extinct in the rest of the world over the same period, which means that Australia accounts for over 40% of the world's mammalian extinctions since 1800.

Biodiversity conservation on private and leasehold land in Queensland has become critical for the survival of many plant and animal species, and their associated ecosystems. Only 4.1 per cent of Queensland's land area is under the protected area estate, leaving 96 per cent of the state (of which 70 per cent is leasehold) managed by private landholders or state forests. The conservation status of Queensland's 13 bioregional ecosystems currently shows that 32 per cent of the total number of regional ecosystems is either endangered or of concern (i.e. less than 10 per cent and 30 per cent remains in pre-European condition respectively) (Sattler and Williams, 1999).

Land for Wildlife is a voluntary nature conservation program that aims to support the maintenance and enhancement of native flora and fauna on private land through cooperative agreements and advisory services. It also aims to encourage landholders to integrate nature conservation with other land management activities.

Land for Wildlife commenced in Queensland in July 1996 with a pilot Southeast Queensland program managed by Ipswich City Council. Upon recognition of the successful Southeast Queensland program, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service commenced state coordination of the program in 2001. In late 2003, the Queensland Government ceased funding the program. Greening Australia Queensland stepped into the role of statewide coordination in July 2004 and employed a State Coordinator based in Rockhampton.

Land for Wildlife in Queensland is an innovative, established program that delivers on-ground and educational nature conservation outcomes.

Land for Wildlife is collectively one of the most effective and active extension services offered to private landholders. Landholders receive numerous products and services as part of participating in the Land for Wildlife program including:

Property assessments are a key component of Land for Wildlife. Individual property assessments provide landholders with personalised advice, feedback, support and encouragement.

Land for Wildlife welcomes landholders who:

Land for Wildlife recognises the skills and commitment of landholders and is responsive to individual needs.

A "working towards" registration category is available for landholders who do not qualify for full registration at the first property visit. Advice is given to help such landholders work towards full registration in the future.

Neighbouring properties may join together and apply for group registration.

Currently in Queensland nearly 3,000 landholders are registered Land for Wildlife members and each one gives evidence of the great achievements nature conservation on private land can have.

For more information on the program, please contact:

Lesley Hale, State Coordinator,
Greening Australia Qld. (07) 4923 7543

Email: Lesley Hale


Vegetation Incentives Program

Protecting High Value Regrowth Vegetation

Peter Voller

A total of 14 voluntary conservation agreements in the Wet Tropics have been approved for funding under the Queensland Government's Vegetation Incentives Program (VIP).

Under the VIP landholders receive funding to improve their property's natural values by protecting regenerating bushland and carrying out actions such as fencing to protect vulnerable areas, controlling feral animals and weeds.

In exchange for the funding, landholders enter into a conservation agreement that is also binding on future owners of the land.

The VIP scheme began in 2004 with calls for expressions of interest from landholders across regional Queensland. The landholders were then invited to submit tenders detailing their proposed work, with assistance from Greening Australia Queensland, and submit them for assessment by an independent panel of experts.

The VIP has been amalgamated with the EPA Nature Refuge Program into the Environmental Partnerships Scheme, which is an initiative under the Blueprint for the Bush. Further tenders for financial assistance will be called under this scheme in the future. For further advice on the Environmental Partnerships Scheme, contact 1800 603 604.


Need help managing the natural values on your property?..

Let NatureAssist!

Bronwyn Robertson

NatureAssist is an initiative of the Queensland Government delivered through the Environmental Protection Agency. This new incentive scheme was launched in April 2006 with $3 million available in the first round. It combines a range of financial incentive mechanisms that may have been encountered in past years, including the Vegetation Incentives Program, the Biodiversity Incentives Tender and the Nature Refuge Green Rewards scheme.

NatureAssist Partners include EPA/ QPWS, DNR&W, Regional NRM bodies (e.g. FNQ NRM Ltd), Conservation Volunteers Australia, Australian Rainforest Foundation and the Australian Government (NHT).

Managed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, the NatureAssist program gives owners of environmentally significant land a cash incentive to protect and manage the natural and cultural values for future generations. Landowners are required to enter into a binding Nature Refuge Agreement to be eligible for NatureAssist funds. Existing Nature Refuge landowners are also eligible to apply for funding assistance through NatureAssist.

Under the 2006 round, 17 Tableland landowners, including 7 existing Nature Refuges, were invited to submit a NatureAssist Tender. Three other Tableland landowners had submitted Expressions of Interest but were not successful in proceeding to the Tender phase.

There are 21 existing Nature Refuges on the Atherton Tablelands. A further 7 are pending gazettal. The significant values protected on these properties include:

A small area of forest or a very isolated patch of forest may not be suitable as a Nature Refuge. If you are interested in finding out more about the Nature Refuge program, speak with your local QPWS Extension Officer, Keith Smith on (07) 4091 8177.

Expressions of Interest under the next round of Nature Assist are expected to be called in early 2007. Keep an eye out for the media releases or monitor the following Web Site: www.ehp.qld.gov.au/ecosystems/nature-refuges/.


Incentive Schemes

Voluntary Conservation Covenants and Rate Discounts in Johnstone Shire

Nigel Weston

Voluntary Conservation Agreements (VCAs) are legally binding agreements with a local government to incorporate incentives such as rate discounts. VCAs are not binding on title, however, since 2001 the Johnstone Shire has been establishing covenants under the Land Titles Act which are binding on title but may be cancelled with the agreement of both parties to the covenant.

The Johnstone Shire Council has been operating a system of incentives which includes rate discounts, technical advice and bonus development rights since 1998. To date, an area of 2,000ha is protected under voluntary conservation covenants (Dryden 2004). There are currently 71 VCAs in the Johnstone Shire. Through consultation with landholders in the Mission Beach area, it is generally regarded that landholders are willing to retain native vegetation if they receive a discount on rates.

The Rate Discount Conservation Covenant is a rate deferral on a ten year rolling amount for a maximum of 90% of the land under the conservation covenant. Discounts can range from 40-60% or up to 100% for high quality habitat. There are currently 58 Rate Discount Conservation Covenants in the Johnstone Shire which cover about 1,500ha.

In addition, there is an existing program offering Bonus Development Rights under the Shire Planning Scheme. The scheme allows for bonus development rights on land zoned as Rural Conservation. It allows for additional development rights that do not compromise the agricultural use dependent on the landholder's desires.This program also offers weed management assistance. Where there is habitat of higher quality, Council may encourage the landholder to carry out more intense development on the disturbed parts and place habitat under a conservation covenant.

(n.b. Rebates have been discontinued on vegetation protected under the Vegetation Management Act 1999)


Wildlife-friendly Fencing

Jenny Maclean, President Tolga Bat Hospital,
Coordinator Barbed Wire Project

Thousands of animals each year face a cruel death from entanglement on barbed wire, and more than 60 wildlife species have been identified as occasional or regular victims of these fences. Bats, gliders and cranes are especially at risk. Tolga Bat Hospital has been funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and several co-sponsors including Bat Conservation International and Australian Ethical Investments, to help address this issue.

The challenge is to make fencing more visible to animals, especially at night. Grey wire fencing on a dark rainy night is not readily seen, especially when it suddenly looms on the top of a ridgeline. Windy conditions exacerbate the difficulties.

The project "Reducing The Impact Of Barbed Wire On Wildlife" is recommending various strategies:

The project is looking for 'champions' within various industries (e.g. beef, dairy), various landscapes (e.g. wet undulating, dry flat) and various regions, who will be the pioneer adopters of new fencing approaches, and be the focus of education and awareness building. The project will develop case studies that are then available for others to gain ideas for their properties. A website www.wildlifefriendlyfencing.com will be launched in early 2007, as well as written materials produced.

The hospital is very keen to hear from landowners about their experiences and any ideas they may have for wildlife-friendly fencing.

Further information on the project can be obtained from Tolga Bat Hospital or ph (07) 4091 2683.

Those with barbed wire fences are encouraged to monitor them. For wildlife rescue, contact Tolga Bat Hospital, the new RSPCA number 1300ANIMAL or Far North Queensland Wildlife Rescue (07) 4053 4467.


Cassowary Capers

Tony & Helen Irvine

Like a present we had forgotten to open, a wild cassowary turned up on Boxing Day in our garden on the outskirts of Atherton and it is still here a week later - giving us a rare opportunity to observe it first-hand.

Peter Latch said cassowary sightings were reported over Christmas from Wongabel and East Barron Road. So it seems the bird came from either the Hugh Nelson Range or the Herberton Range and followed the Barron River valley through Wongabel Forest then left the river and traversed open farmland to get to our place. Cyclone Larry destroyed many of its food plants which is possibly why it is on the move, and shows how valuable small islands of native plants, such as ours, can be.

At first, the cassowary stood outside the laundry door and made a deep rumbling in its throat (like a suitcase being wheeled over paving stones), when our washing machine spun; now it ignores it. It only rumbles now when it stretches to its full height to check out the cassowary reflected in one of our windows, or when we come too close to it or we are in its path. Then we each diverge to increase the distance and it continues on its way. The exception was when Helen was spraying weeds on the edge of our forest with a backpack spray and it was determined to drive her away. It did not pick up speed, but it kept coming like a surgically directed missile and the strike power of its beak and feet were enough for her to concede.

Sideways, its body looks like an unkempt emu. From the front it looks like a turkey for a giant's banquet. From its back, when it is feeding, it looks like a little old man with a black beard. But mostly, it looks like a pondorous vegetarian dinosaur: toes together - splayed - toes together -splayed.

In our garden it is feeding on Syzygium fibrosum, Syzygium aqueum, Syzygium australis and Eugenia reinwardtiana fruit, and strawberries. Peck, peck, peck, then a backwards jerk of its head to make it all go down. It can reach very few berries so it relies mostly on fruit drop and patrols each tree several times a day - covering most of our three hectares: open lawn, forest, creek, orchard - like a policeman on its beat. Tony helps by cutting down some of the higher berries, but only when it is not looking so it does not associate us with food. For the same reason, we also have to make sure it does not see us emptying our compost.

Home base is the Syzygium fibrosum near our back door. It rests under it through the day and spends the night there. Another resting place is the shady forest at the far end of our block where it disappears into shadow and we would not know it was there if it did not give itself away by rumbling. Another indication of its presence is piles all over the place, and there's so much whole fruit in the salad, it's a wonder it doesn't recycle it and have another go.

Our bird is almost adult. There is a red stripe down the back of the neck, with blue at each side, and wattles are forming at the front. Males are supposed to be paler than females and smaller in size. Without a pair to compare, we guess ours is male. If it is, Tony names him Zygi. If she is a female, Helen baptises her Lillypilly.

A Cassowary in Atherton!

Peter Latch (QPWS)

Over the Christmas period, QPWS received information from the public on a number of sightings of a cassowary moving across the Atherton Tablelands. Based on these, it would appear to be the same bird which has moved from Upper Barron Rd just outside of Malanda to the Irvine's property on the Gillies Highway near Atherton. It is a young adult, probably looking for habitat in which to establish a territory. As to its origins, QPWS is unsure, but it could have wandered in from the rainforest remnants around Jaggan or Tarzali, areas where we know there are cassowaries. In getting to the Irvine's place, the bird would have crossed a landscape reasonably hostile to cassowaries (lack of continuous vegetation, busy roads, dogs etc). QPWS has been monitoring the bird's movements in anticipation that it would keep moving until it located a large block of habitat. For the time being, it appears to have taken up residence temporarily at the Irvine's place as there is a good supply of native fruits there.

While this is an exciting record, as a cassowary hasn't been sighted this close to Atherton in living memory, long term the area cannot support cassowaries. As well, being close to Atherton means that birds are at risk of a car strike or being attacked by dogs. QPWS is investigating translocating the bird back into suitable continuous habitat. What this record highlights is that even in developed landscapes, cassowaries will move large distances to find suitable habitat. Long term, the challenge is to retain a mosaic of suitable remnant patches, connected by corridors, that will facilitate their safe passage between large habitat blocks.

If anyone saw this bird over the Christmas period, or indeed any sightings of cassowaries in unusual places, please contact myself on 4091 8191. This information is vital in building up a picture of cassowary movements which will help inform management of their populations and habitat.


Nursery News

Nick Stevens

Seasons Greetings to you all from the nursery staff. We hope the New Year finds you in top spirits and good health.

Once again the planting season is upon us and there are plenty of organised community projects (see planting schedule on front page) to keep everyone happy from late January through to mid April, not to mention your own or friends' and neighbours' plantings.

The nursery is brimming with a great selection of trees for restoration projects, so if you haven't called in to the nursery yet this season, be sure to come one Friday soon. Staff will be on hand to provide advice for your project and help select suitable plant species.

If you are planning to plant near or under power lines, please seek advice from your power authority and your shire council as to minimum distance from lines, maximum height under lines and suitable species. Ergon Energy, Greening Australia, local councils and commercial nurseries have been working together to produce advice regarding planting near power lines, so to save future disappointment and damage to power infrastructure, follow their guidelines.

Hope to see you at the nursery and community plantings soon.

Happy Planting!!


Fruit Collection Diary September - December 2006

Species Common Name Collection Provenance
Acmenosperma claviflorum Grey Satinash 7.3.10
Anthocarapa nitidula Incensewood 7.8.3
Antidesma erostre Native Currant 7.8.2
Argyrodendron sp. Boonjee Red Tulip Oak 7.8.2
Arytera divaricata Rose Tamarind 7.8.3
Backhousia bancroftii Johnstone River Hardwood 7.8.1, 7.3.10
Carallia brachiata Carillia 7.3.10
Cardwellia sublimis Northern Silky Oak 7.8.2
Castanospora alphandii Brown Tamarind 7.8.2, 7.8.3
Cryptocarya hypospodia Northern Laurel 7.8.3
Darlingia ferruginea Rose Silky Oak 7.8.2
Dillenia alata Red Beech 7.3.10
Diploglottis diphyllostegia Northern Tamarind 7.3.10, 7.8.3
Ficus drupaceae Drupe Fig 7.3.10
Ficus pleurocarpa Banana Fig 7.8.2
Flindersia acuminata Silver Silkwood 7.8.2
Flindersia bourjotiana Silver Ash 7.3.10, 7.8.1
Ganophyllum falcatum Scaly Ash 7.3.10
Litsea leefeana Bollywood 7.8.2, 7.8.3, 7.8.4
Lomatia fraxinifolia Lomatia Silky Oak 7.8.2, 7.8.4
Macaranga tanarius Macaranga 7.8.1
Mallotus mollisimus Kamala 7.8.1
Melodorum uhrii  7.8.3
Mischocarpus macrocarpus Large Fruited Mischocarp 7.8.2
Pittosporum ferrugineum Rusty Pittosporum 7.3.10
Pullea stutzeri Hard Alder 7.8.2
Ristantia pachysperma Yellow Penda 7.3.10
Sarcopteryx martyana   7.8.2
Sloanea langii White Carabeen 7.8.1
Synima macrophylla Topaz Tamarind 7.8.2
Syzygium cormiflorum Bumpy Satinash 7.8.2
Syzygium leuhmannii Cherry Satinash 7.8.2
Syzygium wilsonii ssp cryptophlebium Plum Satinash 7.8.2
Toechima daemelianum Cape Tamarind N/A
Toechima erythrocarpum Pink Tamarind 7.8.1
Zanthoxylum ovalifolium Thorny Yellowwood 7.8.2, 7.8.3

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