Wildlife corridors for the Scenic Rim

This is currently our largest project

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Why corridors?

A few years ago our main theme for the year was why animals need to move, .

First sighting on our surveys:  a squirrel glider on the  Destiny Eco-cottage property near Boonah. (photo by Linda Cross)

First sighting on our surveys: a squirrel glider on the Destiny Eco-cottage property near Boonah. (photo by Linda Cross)

which includes aspects the animals are actively involved in seeking:

  • To reach sleeping/resting and feeding/drinking areas
  • To find new feeding places as resources diminish.
  • To find a new territory
  • To migrate north-south between breeding areas and over-wintering areas
  • To find a mate.

A few years ago Keith McCosh of Scenic Rim Regional Council suggested we search for squirrel gliders, which (unlike the the other gliders in our region) tend to be found in low-altitude open forests and woodlands.  Squirrel gliders are not yet threatened, but their habitat is not well protected by national parks or other conservation areas, and it is increasingly fragmented, making it difficult for gliders and other animals to move from one patch of habitat to another. We accordingly applied for and received grants, conducted quite a few surveys and mapped out areas where gliders were detected, and where corridors could be useful.

Native bee on an Omalanthus flower

Although focussing on squirrel gliders, we want corridors to be as suitable as possible for other wildlife that use similar habitats, including:  koalas, bettongs, birds that need understory shrubs and are not strong flyers (e.g. fairy-wrens) or whose populations have been dwindling (glossy black cockatoos, grey-crowned babblers), lizards, native bees and butterflies.

 

Different species have different needs:

  • Gliders can glide between trees and habitat patches
  • Birds, bats, butterflies and bees can fly between them
  • Bettongs, bandicoots, dasyurids, echidnas, lizards, frogs and many others can’t
  • Some birds very readily fly across cleared areas such as open paddocks
  • Others hesitate to leave the shelter of the forest (and may never fly high enough to see other habitat patches)
  • Some birds (noisy miners, crows, kookaburras, butcherbirds) do very well where there are just trees and short grass but are predatory or aggressive towards small birds that  need thickets of understory shrubs for protection
  • Although bees can fly between habitat patches, they may need some flowers to feed from every 100 or 200m.
  • Butterflies prefer to fly where there are at least some understory shrubs for shelter when needed
  • Koalas can walk quite long distances between trees, but while doing so they are more vulnerable to attacks by dogs and collisions with vehicles

 

Where will the corridors be?

overview-corridorsWe are currently developing a plan in cooperation with the Scenic Rim Regional Council. Keith’s idea is to consolidate the “hubs” (Kooralbyn/Josephville, Mont Alford/Wallaces Creek, Birnham, lower Duck Creek, and Maroon/Mt Barney) as secure glider habitat as well as the establishment of corridors.  Corridors will especially lead out from the Kooralbyn/Josephville area to other areas where they have been seen – especially south to the Maroon area, west to Boonah area and north to Birnham Range.

We hope to extend them further to connect Birnham Range populations via Kerry Road to Duck Creek Road, where there are good populations. A corridor through low-altitude areas near the NSW border may be considered in the future

Plantings (and possibly glider poles where plantings are not possible) are anticipated both on Council land and private land where land-owners are supportive of the project. We have had a great response from land-owners so far.

 

Financial assistance

Wildlife Queensland (head office) has raised $5000 towards equipment, plants, workshops etc. Our first purchase from this grant entails three motion-sensing cameras (with infra-red for night time – no white flashes to startle animals)

The Communities Environment Program (federal government) has also provided us a grant of $10,211 largely to provide fencing and other protection between plantings and grazing cattle and other animals.

 

Plans for the hubs

  • Surveys of gliders and other wildlife throughout the coming year as baseline data. This will include standardised searches in mornings and evenings (for species active at differing time of day), additional more opportunistic searches, and seeing of motion- sensing cameras.  We will provide check sheets for particular species, but other sightings will also be recorded. Native bees or butterflies on flowers or butterflies laying eggs should be photographed both for identification of the species and for a record of which plants they are using. Use of different plants by the mammals and birds will also be recorded (e.g. which trees or shrubs are gliders eating sap or gum from). See here for details. 
  • Enhance with additional plantings and nest boxes where appropriate
  • Future surveys (using same methodologies as above) to see what is working: possibly after 2 years, 5 years and 10 years.

Plans for the corridors

  • Identify gaps and where corridors could really be installed
  • Find out what is possible (willing landowners, council permission)
  • Plan the plantings accordingly (sometimes along an ideal route, sometimes with deviations)
  • Conduct surveys as for hubs
  • Coordinate volunteers and land-owners
  • Decide on which trees, shrubs and other plants are appropriate and agreeable to land-owners along each route
  • Prepare ground and protection from grazing animals where necessary
  • Plant the trees and other plant species
  • Return as often as necessary opening on conditions (e.g. rainfall) to inspect, water the plants, remove weeds close to them, and record survival rates
  • Conduct further surveys in future years to assess use by wildlife species

 

SpinebillCallistemonWhat we will plant

  • Trees for squirrel gliders to glide between
  • Trees and shrubs for glider food, especially winter- flowering
  • Koala trees
  • Food-plants for butterfly larvae
  • Flowers for native bees Other wildlife-friendly plants

A nice illustration of plants for native bees can be found here:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/13EkHtot5zo–KKMgCsK4SmtZyDbh7P3e/view?usp=drivesdk

Other factors we’ve considered in choices:

  • Locally native species (preferably species occurring naturally in the localities the corridors run through, but there are a few useful species that occur in other parts of the Scenic Rim or very close to it)
  • Relatively fire-resistant (everything will burn in a catastrophic fire, but some plants are considerably more fire-resistant than others).
  • Drought and frost resistant (more likely to survive through stressful times, and involve us in less work)

Click here for a working list of plants we’re recommending for planting.

Click here for some information on equipment for surveys and habitat restoration/enhancement

 

A call for volunteers

Many thanks to those who have alway indicate their willingness to help in various ways.

If you have not done so but are interested, please let us know if you can:

  • Offer part of your land for planting
  • Provide materials (tree guards, nesting boxes etc.)
  • Help with planting, weeding and watering?
  • Help with fencing?
  • Help with surveys?
  • Help with collating information?
  • Not actually do much right now but would like to be updated by an email newsletter

Please register your interest at https://cutt.ly/corridor

Remember safety is important:

  • It is best for volunteers to work in pairs or small groups, both as protection against undesirable encounters, especially at night, and for one to assist or call for help if others are injured (some accidents can happen very unexpectedly)
  • A first aid kit should always be available
  • There should be at least one mobile phone to call for help, and preferably everyone should have a phone to contact each other if separated
  • Volunteers should avoid walking through long grass where snakes may be present but not obvious (they don’t see us as prey, and generally keep out of our way, but they don’t like being trodden on)

 

 

Acknowledgments

We have many people to thank.

  • The Scenic Rim Regional Council, who funded many of our glider surveys, and is giving us free trees and other wildlife-friendly plants.
  • Wildlife Queensland headquarters, who have raised $5000 toward the glider corridor project.
  • The Communities Environment Program, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, which have now given us an additional grant of over $10,200. Thanks to Federal MP Scott Buccholz for recommending our project to them
  • Various experts who have spoken at our workshops, especially Dr Ross Goldingay, with extensive experience of research on gliders and their use of glider poles
  • Energex, who have offered us used telegraph poles as glider poles
  • Department of Transport and Main Roads, who are supportive of the idea of careful roadside plantings (where we can also deter wildlife from crossing major roads) and well-planned erection of poles for gliders and overpass ladders for other arboreal mammals
  • Various volunteers who have assisted with surveys and landowners who have allowed us to erect motion-sensing cameras or bought their own cameras to monitor wildlife on their properties
  • Those who have already offered to volunteer in tree-planting and aftercare, citizen-science monitoring, construction of nesting boxes and other aspects of the project
  • Healthy Land and Water, WWF and others who have expressed support for the project

 

 

Public Workshops

Details of a 2019 wildlife corridors workshop can be viewed here.

Details of our workshop 8th February 2020, which was attended by about 40 delegates despite heavy rain, have largely been incorporated into the details on this page.

Let us know if you would like to be on an email list for updates.

Click here for a working list of plants we’re recommending for planting.

 

 

Some further reading

General

A thesis on effectiveness of corridors https://eprints.qut.edu.au/16039/

 

Corridors in Australia

Considering our role in respect to the Great Eastern Ranges (“The Great Eastern Ranges Initiative (GER) brings people and organisations together to protect, link and restore healthy habitats over 3,600km, from western Victoria through NSW and the ACT to far north Queensland.”) https://www.ger.org.au/home

National wildlife corridors plan “The National Wildlife Corridors Plan is the Australian Government’s framework to retain, restore and manage ecological connections in the Australian landscape. It lays the foundation for a new, collaborative, whole-of-landscape approach to biodiversity conservation, one based on voluntary cooperation and the efforts of communities, landholders, governments and industry. The role of the Australian Government is to enable and coordinate the efforts of all participants. The Corridors Plan outlines the Australian Government’s vision whereby a diversity of land tenures and land use types will contribute to wildlife corridors. It is designed to guide and support individuals, private landholders and managers, community groups, policy makers, planners and natural resource managers to develop and manage corridor initiatives. The rights landholders have under the law to control and enjoy their property, control access to their property and legally dispose of their property in part or in whole are not altered or affected by the Corridors Plan.” https://www.environment.gov.au/topics/biodiversity/biodiversity-conservation/wildlife-corridors/what-are-wildlife-corridors

Fauna Sensitive Road Design (Queensland Government) – Wildlife Corridors Download pdf FSRD_4_WildlifeCorridors

Corridors in ne NSW  (NSW Government)https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/nature/landholderNotes15WildlifeCorridors.pdf

Habitat creation in Mosman, Sydney https://scenicrim.wildlife.org.au/projects/wildlife-corridors-for-the-scenic-rim/

Review of corridors in logging areas in Australia https://www.publish.csiro.au/WR/WR9940323

A wildlife corridor along railway in Melbourne https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/factsheets/a-wildlife-corridor/9429290

Riparian (river-side) corridors. Martin, TG, McIntyre, S Catterall, CP  Possingham HP 2006. Is landscape context important for riparian conservation? Birds in grassy woodland. - Biological Conservation 127: 201-214

“…The influence of landscape context on the bird assemblage increased as the surrounding land use became more intensive (e.g., woodland to native pasture to crop). Riparian zones have been shown to have consistently high biodiversity values relative to their extent. These findings suggest it is not enough to conserve riparian habitats alone, conservation and restoration plans must also take into consideration landscape context, particularly when that context is intensively used land.”

Corridors for vertebrates

Bird corridors https://www.birdsinbackyards.net/Fragmentation-and-Wildlife-Corridors

Edge effects on Australian forest birds:  Catterall, CP, Green, RJ, Jones, DN 1991, Habitat use by birds across a forest-suburb interface in Brisbane: implications for corridors. Nature conservation 2: 247-258

Summary: The following patterns of habitat use by birds were observed.(1) Most species were behavioural macrohabitat specialists, and suites of” suburb”,” forest” and” edge” species could be identified.(2) There was little movement of either forest or suburb species across the interface.(3) There was a strong edge effect, with a distinctive suite of large and aggressive species using the combination of resources that were available at the edge.(4) Forest species were characteristically small, foliage-feeding insectivores, and there was no effect of distance from the forest on the density of these birds within suburban sites.(5) There was no significant effect on forest species of varying the local vegetation characteristics within suburban sites, although there was some effect on suburb species. We conclude that day-to-day movements among small, isolated remnants are unlikely for most forest species; that narrow connecting corridors are likely to be dominated by aggressive edge species; and that this could inhibit movements within them by forest species. A loss of foliage-feeding avian insectivores could lead to further perturbations within corridor ecosystems, and these should be avoided by conserving wide corridors with a well-developed understorey.

Corridors for invertebrates

Corridors for invertebrates  https://conservationcorridor.org/2020/02/how-do-you-build-a-corridor-for-invertebrates/

If cities like New York can provide corridors for butterflies and bees, we certainly can! https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/26/nyregion/green-roofs-nyc.html

Nation pollinator counts.  (We can incorporate this into our monitoring) https://wildpollinatorcount.com/resources/run-count/