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  • Geography in Conversation - Endangered Species: Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat Recovery Project and the Eastern Bristlebird Project and others

Geography in Conversation - Endangered Species: Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat Recovery Project and the Eastern Bristlebird Project and others

Wednesday, November 01, 2023 11:41 AM | Anonymous

L-R: Geoff Heard, Sheena Gillman, Dave Harper

September’s Geography in Conversation provided a valuable opportunity to hear expert perspectives on monitoring and managing threatened species populations across Queensland. 

The Threatened Species Index (TSX) seeks to measure the change in abundance over time of 278 species by collating data from monitoring programs across Australia.  Dr Geoff Heard, Science Advisor for the project at the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) gave an overview of recent trends for birds, mammals and plants. From 1990-2022 the TSX has decreased by 56% in Queensland; however, the TSX is stabilising in sites actively managed for conservation. More data is needed for frogs, fish and insects to better capture changes across the entire ecosystem.

Sheena Gillman from BirdLife Australia illuminated the practical difficulties of monitoring programs. There are believed to be up to 50 individual Eastern Bristlebirds surviving but there have been no confirmed sightings for 10 years. Its habitat consists of dense native grass close to rainforest along the northern NSW and South East QLD border. Some of this habitat is rugged terrain or private land neither included in the TSX nor accessible to volunteers doing field work. Analysing data from newly installed passive acoustic monitors and a captive breeding program underway at Currumbin will require significant funding and time to be successful.

The northern hairy-nosed wombat is one of the most critically threatened mammals in the world, but the population has rebounded from 100 wombats in 2006 to 300 today. Principal Conservation Officer Dave Harper from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science spoke of the activities underway among the two existing populations in conjunction with partner organisations. Traditional techniques (e.g. predator-proof fencing to keep dogs and foxes out) and innovative approaches (e.g. introducing grazing into conservation areas to control invasive buffel grass) are in place to sustain habitat suitable for the growing number of wombats.

The Geography in Conversation committee would like to thank John and Mary Nowill for their smooth moderation of a fascinating discussion.

Contributed by Riley Kernaghan

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