Tully Branch President Suzie Smith and volunteers worked hard in the heat.
Photo © Anne Wilkinson
There was an air of celebration on Elders Murrigal farm, Wallacevale (near Tully), on a Monday morning in December. Wildlife history was about to be made.
The occasion was the first official Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland (WPSQ), Tully branch, planting of mahogany glider feed trees on land which was not owned or leased by members. Despite the results of a recent count revealing numbers of the endangered and very localised mahogany glider were down and its habitat was now less than 20 percent of its original area and becoming increasingly fragmented, members had welcomed this new survey.
'That the glider is really struggling is desperate news, but we have always known that,' said Tully branch president Suzie Smith. '‘We have been planting where we could to preserve its habitat and the corridors linking it, but this new survey shows accurately where help is needed for the glider. This new information provides us with an opportunity to make real progress in our work to pull the mahogany glider back from the brink.'
Tully Branch sent out a rallying call and received a tremendous response from Elders, Cassowary Coast Regional Council (CCRC) and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS). CCRC provided the trees for the planting from their Revegetation Nursery, and to cap it all, 12 rangers from Girringun Aboriginal Corporation turned up to work alongside WPSQ members, volunteers from Council’s Revegetation Unit, and QPWS rangers who came up from Ingham. In all, there were 45 people involved.
High humidity and unexpected hot sunshine made work hard for the group which remained in good spirits through trying conditions. Planting was followed by a welcome celebratory picnic lunch. Nearly 270 trees were planted and fertilised in a clearing of over a hectare of land. The concept of planting the trees was suggested to Elders several months back by Tully branch and the company readily agreed to allow their property, which has already been plantation planted with red stringy bark – to include mahogany glider food trees. The new section being planted under the WPSQ campaign will provide connectivity between further plantings of trees suitable for native wildlife to regenerate.
The trees planted include a variety of glider food trees which will be in flower at different times to the already planted red stringy bark. These were Eucalyptus tereticornis (Blue gum), E. tessalaris (Moreton Bay ash), a Corymbia (bloodwood), and Melalauca leucadendra, M. quinquenervia and M. viridiflora, plus Acacia mangium, Albizia, Lophostemon and Melicope elleryana.
Suzie said that when the branch decided to launch a campaign to re-establish glider habitat in the region they knew it would be necessary to not only plant trees but to nurture them for a further two to three years to ensure they are well established. Suzie said 'because our branch membership is not large we realise such an undertaking of the size we proposed would be too difficult to maintain and Elders responded by offering to include the area we have planted in their plantation maintenance.' Elders District Forester Max Grimbacher said the company was delighted to be involved in this worthwhile project and wished to play a constructive role in the welfare of the district’s fauna. 'Obviously the mahogany glider is an animal which is desperately in need of assistance and Elders is proud to be able to provide some of the help it needs'.
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