Around 2,500 trees were planted at a spot affectionately called ‘Lemuroid Leap’ with TREAT members and the students from the School for Field Studies getting their hands dirty to help cultivate important wildlife corridors. This is the third TREAT tree planting this year of over 2,000 trees.
The tree plantings are an extension of the Wet Tropics Management Authority’s ‘Mobilising Landholders’ project, a three year rainforest restoration project (2011-2014) which has planted 8.5ha of upland rainforest on private lands.
The new rainforest corridors would join two sections of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and reconnect a 1000ha rainforest outlier on the southern Atherton Tablelands.
These upland forests were identified by scientists as some of the most important cool, wet refuge areas in Australia for animals and plants which are vulnerable to climate change. These cool refugia make up 25% of Wet Tropics rainforests and contain 45% of its endemic species. They provide habitat for upland rainforest species such as Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroos, lemuroid ringtail possums, green ringtail possums, golden bowerbirds, tooth-billed bowerbirds, mountain thornbills, Victoria’s riflebirds, Atherton scrubwrens, the endangered southern cassowaries and several endangered frog species.
The project was administered through the Wet Tropics Management Authority and funded by the Australian Government. Conservation Volunteers and the Tablelands Regional Council revegetation unit provided most of the labour for tree planting, controlling 16ha of weeds and building 4km of fencing.
Six local Aboriginal trainees learned fencing and land management techniques as part of the project and over 30 community members learned how to monitor vegetation plots.
The project incorporated innovative research by University of Queensland and Griffith University to promote cheaper and more effective restoration techniques, to monitor new microhabitats placed within restoration plots, and to instigate community monitoring of the sites.
The mobilising landholders project won an award from the National Climate Change Adaptation and Research Facility in 2012 for taking practical steps to change behaviour, business practices and policies to adapt to climate change.
The project’s success in mobilising landholders, and the tireless community liaison of Keith Smith from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and Dave Hudson of the Tree Kangaroo and Mammal Group, has seen the South Endeavour Trust acquire some of the blocks in the Rock Road corridor. As a result, community tree-plantings continue long after the initial project funding finished. The wildlife corridors will be completed and help to create a shared sense of place and community and an appreciation of our wonderful Wet Tropics rainforests.