DRY SEASON JULY TO SEPTEMBER 2023
COMING FIELD DAY AT FREEBROOK Saturday 5th AUGUST 2023 2pm RN 1691 Topaz Road
TREAT has been invited to take a guided wander through the tree plantings at Larry Crook and Kylie Freebody’s property at Topaz on 5th August. Here, Larry’s and Kylie have revegetated 4 hectares of disused pasture between 1995 and 2007. The areas planted are on the previous Topaz sports field and the school horse paddock which was operational between 1932 and 1960.
About 40% of the plantings are now 25 years old and well-forested. The remaining plantings were subjected to Cyclone Larry in 2006 only 12 months after they were planted, and some tree deaths occurred in the next 2-3 years. These later plantings took longer to develop a good canopy cover and ground layer.
We will also look at two disused pasture areas with some natural regeneration. These areas have had no intervention for nearly 20 years.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING Friday 1st SEPTEMBER 2023 7pm Community Hall Yungaburra
TREAT's 41st Annual General Meeting will be held on Friday 1st September at the Yungaburra Community Hall commencing at 7pm. Annual reports by the President and Treasurer, and the Nursery Manager, will be followed by the election of TREAT office bearers for the next year. Members are reminded that they must be financial when voting for the new committee. Subscriptions will be accepted at the AGM. Following the AGM, a General Meeting is held at which members can raise any issues.
Our guest speaker for the evening will be Nigel Tucker who will present results from the Three Corridors Project, with assistance from Amanda Freeman.
The evening concludes with a supper, and plate contributions are appreciated. Everyone is welcome to attend the evening.
Three Corridors Project: (Nigel Tucker)
Over two decades, hundreds of members of TREAT, Landcare, and other volunteers, planted over 140,000 trees to build three wildlife corridors - joining the previously isolated fragments of Curtain Fig (300ha), Lake Eacham (489ha) and Lake Barrine (505ha) to Wooroonooran National Park (80,000ha). So, what was the effect of establishing those corridors 20-30 years ago, and what has it taught us about the way nature responds to strategic tree-planting? Do wildlife corridors have a role to play in overcoming the twin perils of forest fragmentation and climate change?
Over the past 12 months a team of researchers has been studying Donaghy’s Corridor (1.2kms), Lakes Corridor (1.4kms) and the Petersen Creek Corridor (4.5kms). The team examined plant regeneration and forest structure, soil seed banks and the colonisation of corridor habitats by reptiles, birds, ground mammals and microbats, to (i) gauge if and how the corridors are becoming functional ecosystems, and (ii) to identify which species or groups are present and which remain absent. The study has produced some interesting results and TREAT members will be the first group to hear how the seedlings of today become the wildlife corridors of tomorrow.
TREAT PLANTING PROJECTS - Irene Gorman
To help in planning ahead for future priority revegetation areas, TREAT is building on its experience of the past 40 years by seeking expressions of interest from landholders on the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands who are interested in revegetation on their properties.
The purpose of this is to build a data base of possible planting projects for the TREAT Committee to prioritise for future funding applications.
As a community-based organisation of volunteers, TREAT works in partnership with local landowners and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) to grow and plant rainforest trees native to the Wet Tropics. The goals that TREAT seeks to achieve through its revegetation activities are informed by the priorities of key local resource management organisations (such as QPWS, Terrain NRM and the Wet Tropics Management Authority) and are summarised by the TREAT motto: the right tree in the right place for the right reason at the right time.
The partnership between TREAT and QPWS generates significant but limited resources and so the use of these resources is carefully managed and prioritised to provide maximum environmental benefits.
It is not TREAT’s normal business to administer and to apply for funding grants on behalf of landowners but TREAT does monitor funding opportunities and may assist with or submit applications when a funding opportunity is identified that aligns with TREAT’s activities and a suitable planting project can be identified.
The factors that the Committee uses to prioritise properties, include, but may not be limited to:
1. Landowners who
•are committed to improving and protecting the environmental value of their properties
•share TREAT’s goals for revegetation on their properties
•are willing to follow the advice of TREAT and QPWS in regards to plant selection and revegetation procedures
2. Sites which
•abut remnant vegetation patches, National Parks or Nature Reserves
•will improve habitat connections
•would be broad riparian plantings on tributaries or major water courses ending on the coast
•will not impinge on highly desirable agricultural land.
If you feel that you have land and environmental goals that would satisfy these criteria, and would like to register your interest in revegetation on your property with TREAT, please complete and submit the form. Note that submitting this form creates no obligation on TREAT’s behalf to go ahead with any revegetation.
A PERFECT MARRIAGE—TREAT and QPWS - Angela McCaffrey
When coming to the nursery and seeing TREAT in action, visitors often ask, what makes TREAT so special, what makes it work so well? My response usually begins with explaining the amazing relationship between TREAT and QPWS, a department of the state government.
The fact that we have QPWS providing all the infrastructure of the nursery, the staff to keep it going every day, and all the revegetation expertise especially with Peter Snodgrass heading up the team, while we, as a community volunteer organisation, turn up one morning a week to provide a huge boost in labour, means it works perfectly.
It is no accident how this symbiotic relationship works out and to back it up, we have an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) providing the guidelines of how we work together, defining the responsibilities of each side as well as what each side can expect in return. This has been in place since 2004, nearly 20 years. It is currently reviewed every five years to keep it relevant and up to date, after which time a new document is signed by both parties.
To celebrate this coming together we hold a special TREAT morning with a few, well-chosen words and, of course, like most marriages, a fabulous cake for everyone to enjoy!
Anthony Staniland, Matt Brien and Angela McCaffrey before signing the MOU
2023 was no exception with Anthony Staniland (Principal Ranger Tablelands, Dry Tropics and Northern Gulf), Matt Brien (Regional Director Northern Region QPWS) and around 60 volunteers, including myself, attending the celebration.
We look forward to working together under the new MOU for the next five years.
FIELD DAY AT RAINFOREST BOUNTY - Dinah Hansman
Geraldine McGuire and her farm manager Dave Houghton welcomed TREAT to Rainforest Bounty on a mizzly Saturday afternoon, 1st July. A little bit of damp does not deter true Tablelanders and around 30 members spent a very interesting afternoon learning about growing native fruit for profit and land regeneration.
The property on Lindsay Road, Malanda and other properties in the district, are loved and managed by four generations of McGuires and close family friends. Geraldine described childhood memories of coming up from Cairns as a teenager with her father and falling in love with the trees and natural landscape. Her qualifications in agricultural science and PhD in plant genetics, and working life in mine rehabilitation were all steps on a path back to the Tablelands.
Geraldine’s epiphany came after ten years of flying over ever-diminishing rainforest in Borneo, Indonesia, to the mine site where she worked. She realised that this setting of cleared forest, wracked by erosion, drought and fire, with displacement of indigenous forest-dwellers, was the exact same scenario that had played out on the Tablelands around a hundred years ago. With this came a determination to work in ways that would redress past loss.
The history of the property is a familiar Tablelands story. It was logged and then after WWII became a dairy farm. Diminishing soil fertility following forest clearing was counteracted with increasing use of superphosphate and other fertilisers. This, and erosion, accelerated the collapse of soil health, and by the 1970s the farm was no longer economically viable. During the 1980s tourist boom it became the venue for a daily revolving door of Japanese tourists. This disappeared nearly overnight with a global financial crisis and the property was on the market for a long time.
About 6 years ago Geraldine was persuaded to buy the Lindsay Road property to consolidate and expand her developing business sourcing, supplying and promoting bush foods. Bush foods had a revival in the 1980s but they were wild sourced and this eventually became unprofitable. Rainforest Bounty aims to grow bush foods commercially as a way of showing how the land can provide an income in a way that also improves soil health, and supports natural values and human health.
Bush foods are nutritious and there is increasing awareness and knowledge of the pharmaceutical and cosmetic properties of native plants. Rainforest Bounty’s farming practices are ‘chemical’ free – Geraldine related a very personal story to support her belief that farm chemicals are injurious to human health. Therefore, the property is managed without using herbicides, pesticides or artificial fertilisers.
Four species are currently being grown commercially – Ooray Plum (Davidsonia pruriens) and Boonjie Tamarind (Diploglottis bracteata), Cape Lillypilly (Syzygium aqueum) and Lemon Aspen (Acronychia acidula). Native gingers and raspberries are being trialled. Ooray Plum has been planted in monoculture stands and also alternating with Tamarind. The trees are spaced a tractor width apart so that grass can be slashed and there is four-wheeler access for picking up fruit (1,000 trees per hectare). We saw that these trees were growing up rather than out, although there is canopy closure eventually, eliminating the need for grass control. In the meantime, grass growing around the trunks is cut with a brush cutter, a labour-intensive exercise. Fruit is collected nearly daily as it falls from the tree, and their Ooray Plum trees fruit year-round. Lillypilly and Lemon Aspen fruit have to be harvested from the trees, so these species are grown at the edge of the plantings where there is better access and the higher light levels that these species require for fruiting.
The orchards are managed using regenerative farming techniques and Rainforest Bounty is part of the Wet Tropics Soil Care Group. Trees are fertilised with a liquid compost tea made from leftover food from restaurants together with a yeast inoculum. This is sourced from a new company ‘Green Food Revolution’, based in Port Douglas. We also saw special composting heaps under tarps on the property. Soil carbon, a measure of soil health, has increased from 6% to a healthy 12%. There has also been a return of invertebrates, birds (including Cassowaries) and mammals such as Tree Kangaroos.
Geraldine’s advocacy for change is encapsulated in the deliberate use of the name Ooray Plum. Ooray is the name given to this species by the Girringun people who supplied the type specimen from Rockingham Bay and who were generous in sharing their knowledge of the tree and its tasty fruit with European botanists and adventurers. Rainforest Bounty and Girringun Aboriginal Corporation have begun a Joint Venture with the aim of creating a safe space to share knowledge and get an economic return. Nine tribal groups are represented and Rainforest Bounty is contributing seeds from processed fruit and expertise on propagating and cultivating native trees and bush food.
There are still venerable individual trees of Ooray Plum in the landscape that would have been brought up from the coast and would have been owned by family groups.
Geraldine pointed out progeny of these trees in the orchard – the ones with the big drooping leaves. Rainforest Bounty is continuing plant selection – for precocious fruiting and large, flavourful fruit with good colour. Some Ooray Plum trees produce a tonne of fruit a year. Fruit pulp is frozen for sale and transport.
We enjoyed a hot cuppa afterwards with Elizabeth’s egg sandwiches and Barbara’s fruit cake, at the pavilion next to the beautiful rainforest-lined North Johnstone River, home to turtles and platypus.
But what we do know after this survey is that the replanted forest is now being heavily used by nearly all of the species in the remnant forest. And that really helps make it all worthwhile!
CASSOWARY CREDIT SCHEME - Bronwyn Robertson
For more than 40 years, individuals and organisations across the Wet Tropics have been protecting and restoring the region’s ecosystems. While there have been many excellent projects, including TREAT’s plantings, threats such as weeds, feral animals and climate change are affecting the health and resilience of the region’s forests. Larger, landscape-scale action is needed to protect, manage and restore ecosystems, but this is hampered by project-driven investment models, which are often insufficient, inconsistent and don’t account for longer-term maintenance requirements.
Terrain has been working with other partners to investigate opportunities for more diversified, large-scale investment. A market-based approach, called the Cassowary Credit Scheme, is being developed for the region, to harness the growing interest of large corporate and philanthropic investors in supporting biodiversity outcomes.
Earlier stages of work saw a feasibility study into the Cassowary Credit Scheme completed, followed by detailed design of the scheme, including the monitoring and verification requirements that will provide evidence of project outcomes for investors. Recent funding has been obtained to support the next stage, including testing of the scheme, more regional engagement and communication about scaling up restoration, as well as setting up the finance mechanisms attached to the Cassowary Credit Scheme to allow investment to flow to projects.
Overview of Process
The idea behind Cassowary Credits is to pay land managers to undertake restoration projects that improve the condition of habitat. Similar to other environmental markets (e.g., carbon), a Cassowary Credit would involve ‘buyers’ (e.g., corporates, philanthropists, government) paying for the habitat benefits that result from the work of ‘sellers’ (e.g., landholders).
A Cassowary Credit needs to represent a quantifiable and verifiable unit of habitat improvement that could be ‘sold’ to anybody seeking to invest in rainforest habitat improvements.
1 Cassowary Credit represents 1 unit of vegetation condition improvement.
The Cassowary Credit Scheme provides rules and guidance on how to measure, verify and quantify the amount of improvement in vegetation condition from restoration projects. Various structural and floristic attributes related to vegetation condition are measured, and a formula is used to unitise the change in condition and convert it to a credit. Credits are issued when results (i.e., improved condition of vegetation) are measured and verified.
In addition to delivering improvements in vegetation condition, there are also specific requirements to ensure local and/or First Nations businesses and service providers are used, retaining and building regional skills and capacity.
How Does a Cassowary Credit Project Work?
The scheme has been designed to reward cumulative improvements in vegetation condition, with the highest rate of change – and hence credits – generated in a project’s earlier years. This aligns with the high inputs during site preparation, planting and maintenance requirements in the first few years. Ongoing, but reducing, improvements in condition continue to be measured over the life of a project (25 years), providing an ongoing source of funding for long-term maintenance.
A landholder who meets scheme requirements registers their Cassowary Credit project with an independent administrator. The baseline condition of the project site is measured before the project commences, including measurements of existing vegetation and weeds. The restoration project is conducted and the change in vegetation condition is measured over time. If all scheme requirements are met, units of vegetation condition improvement are converted to credits, which can be purchased by investors.
When Can Cassowary Credit projects start?
There is huge potential – for landholders, for companies and other businesses to drive nature repair, and for greater investment in habitat restoration across the Wet Tropics region. But biodiversity credit markets are in their early stages and will take time to develop. It’s critical that the market develops with high integrity standards so that real and positive outcomes are delivered for the region and for investors. There’s no exact timeframe yet for when projects will be able to start, but the important testing stage currently underway will take the scheme a step closer to completion.
The scheme is called Cassowary Credits for the unique marketing and branding opportunities cassowaries provide. The focus of the scheme is on improving habitat in the Wet Tropics for all biodiversity and there is no requirement for cassowaries to be present at project sites.
The Cassowary Credit Scheme was originally designed as a stand-alone biodiversity market scheme – that is, biodiversity outcomes (i.e., improving condition of vegetation) from a project are measured and investors purchase the biodiversity outcomes generated. There are also options for projects to be registered in other markets, such as the carbon market, and use the Cassowary Credit Scheme as a way to verify additional environmental outcomes and claim a premium price for the carbon.
Environmental markets, including Cassowary Credits, necessarily come with strict conditions and requirements for eligibility and delivering outcomes, including reporting on project activities and monitoring changes over time according to the scheme’s method. It’s crucial that market schemes have a high level of integrity, so that the outcomes and benefits are clear for all participants.
Having multiple investment instruments – from government grants to market schemes to philanthropic donations – supports involvement from a wide range of landholders, organisations and investors and provides the greatest opportunity to generate sufficient investment for large-scale restoration. More information on the Cassowary Credit Scheme is available at: https://terrain.org.au/what-we-do/biodiversity/cassowary-credit-scheme/.
Williams Park from Oak Street entrance
ALLUMBAH HERITAGE WALK - WILLIAMS PARK - Paul Burnell
In 1988 a Walk was created in Yungaburra called the Allumbah Bicentennial Walk, but after some 34 years it had fallen into disrepair. Early in 2022, a small group of landcare volunteers began to not only research the Walk, but also to investigate local Indigenous and European history. Local residents, Indigenous Elders, historians, and council representatives were interviewed and consulted, with important verification support from the Eacham Historical Society. A community project evolved and it became known as the Allumbah Heritage Walk.
The area in focus is on the eastern side of Peterson Creek and was originally known as Allumbah. Research uncovered many fascinating facts, stories, and sites, with highlights such as the original Williams Hotel, a nine-hole golf course, a tennis court and football fields. Early settlement plans of Allumbah showed marked-out areas for housing, a police compound and a designated school area, to name a few, the latter eventually becoming the local cemetery.
The railway from Tolga was opened in 1910. Around this time, a new township began to form, and Allumbah was moved a short distance away and renamed Yungaburra. Despite the intervening world wars, with a growing timber industry, dairy farms and later on tourism, the new township grew in prosperity.
Post-WWII engineers established that a large land area, which included the settlement of Kulara, could be dammed and flooded to create what we now know as Lake Tinaroo. Part of this significant project entailed re-routing a section of the railway line. The Allumbah Heritage Walk includes a large steel and concrete rail bridge and remnants of where the old rail track used to be.
In October 2022, a submission was put to the Tablelands Regional Council (TRC) for a grant to help with the realisation of the Heritage Walk project. Funding was received to supply mapping, signage, and colour brochures. Further assistance was received from TRC with the creation of a QR code and detailed information on their website. trc.qld.gov.au/explore/allumbah-heritage-walk/ Yungaburra Association Inc. also supported the re-imagined Walk with an inclusion on the large map on display in the Yungaburra town centre.
The Walk is 4.3 km in total length but it can be completed in sections at any one time. It is suitable for birdwatchers, those wanting exercise, out of town visitors or simply for those who want to enjoy more of Yungaburra’s environment.
One of the highlights of the Walk is Williams Park; this is an area of natural regrowth and is now the home of much local native flora and fauna. The gardens there were started some 11 years ago by Yungaburra residents and since then have grown and matured into a very pleasant and peaceful environment.
The current focus is to encourage the planting of as many native flora species as possible and Yungaburra Landcare are the auspicing body for this initiative. In February of this year a group of volunteers, well supported by TREAT, planted a new area near one of the main entrances, and with the favourable seasonal weather, the plants are thriving. Again with the help of TREAT, new areas have been planned and discussed for the further planting of around 300 native trees and bushes later this year.
This community project is now in need of new volunteers to help prepare the areas in the gardens for the plantings. If you are able to assist, please contact me through Angela or Barbara at TREAT.
WILDLANDS STUDIES GROUP HELPING AT FREEMANS FOREST NR - Angela McCaffrey
In June TREAT was contacted by Joe Sapp from the American company, Wildlands Studies Group. This company organises 2 to 6 week trips around the world for American and Canadian students with the aim of studying conservation, helping conservation projects and having adventures. They have been doing this since 1979 and have helped TREAT on a couple of occasions on Peterson Creek projects from 2018 onwards but took a break between 2020 and 2022 due to Covid.
This year we lined up some work at Freemans Forest Nature Refuge, the link between Peterson Creek and Lake Eacham. Eighteen students and three supervisors came for a morning’s work and education on 5th July. Simon Burchill, Mark McCaffrey and myself were there, ready to explain the history and environmental importance of Peterson Creek and Freemans Forest NR in particular, as well as show them what was required of them. We split them into two groups, one of 6 to assist with removing wire and plastic from old fence posts before carrying them to various spots within the 2016 and 2017 revegetation and making small stacks, to create habitat for lizards, skinks, insects and snakes. The second group of 15 went with Simon to the 2013 planting to remove weed matting which had been put around each tree at the time of planting and was supposed to biodegrade in two years but which was still hanging around 10 years later. They placed the bits of matting and rusty pegs into old fertiliser bags to be taken to the tip.
It was just fantastic to see the enthusiasm and speed with which both groups tackled these wet and dirty jobs. In the space of 3 hours, all the old fence posts had been moved into the plantings, bits of old irrigation and barbed wire had been loaded onto Mark’s ute for the first trip to the dump, whilst about 12 bags and bins of old matting and pegs were brought to the shed for the second trip. There must have been up to 1,000 mats removed which, with the 500 or so that TREAT volunteers had already removed, made a good impact on the total of 6,000 that were originally put in place. We followed up the work with a quick visit to the nursery to help put TREAT’s work in perspective.
The previous day, the students had helped with a survey of trees used by Yellow-bellied Gliders in the wet sclerophyll forests near Ravenshoe, and after helping TREAT, they were going to the Tolga Bat Hospital to work there.
Thanks go to Simon and Mark.
Hopefully we get the chance to work with more of these enthusiastic students in the future.
NURSERY NEWS - Peter Snodgrass
The distribution of trees to revegetation sites across the region for the 2022-23 financial year has been completed with trees going to many different projects. The distribution figures will be provided at the TREAT AGM and in the next newsletter. All projects that were allocated trees from the Lake Eacham Nursery have been of high significance. The TREAT coordinated and supported projects have enhanced connectivity and habitat in many strategic locations on both the southern and central tablelands. TREAT members have also been very busy implementing their individual landscape restoration projects with reports of wildlife taking full advantage of these areas.
TREAT volunteer efforts have produced trees for a diverse range of ecosystems across the region. While the wildlife have enjoyed browsing on some efforts in the Forty Mile Scrub National Park to remind us of their presence, all other areas have established with high levels of success.
Earlier this year, QPWS staff in the Cairns South team were approached by the Clontarf Foundation enquiring about the possibility of engaging in any National Park restoration projects. The Clontarf Foundation works to provide young First Nations men with a diverse range of activities, to support their confidence and assist them to participate positively in education and employment. The Cairns South team decided on a revegetation project at the base of the iconic Walsh's Pyramid, in Wooroonooran NP, near Gordonvale, which is culturally significant for many different groups. This project was also designed with the Dulabed Malanbarra Yidinji (Jawajawa) rangers, who agreed to assist on the day. The thinking behind this site as a location was that it is easily accessible and so the young people would have future opportunities to visit the site and see the progression and the benefits of their work on the day. The planting took place on the 27th April, where rangers and the Clontarf group all enjoyed a very positive and productive day.
The Goondaloo people were carrying out cultural surveys on Wairuna station in mid-May. Nursery staff joined them at the heritage-listed Homestead for an open discussion on nursery operations, sharing knowledge and learning how we might be able to assist with producing trees of cultural significance. These trees could then be planted around the homestead so the Goondaloo traditional owners can teach their youth about their cultural use.
The water in Eubenangee Swamp National Park finally receded enough for the QPWS/ Innisfail North team to infill previous plantings and establish a new 2023 site. Revegetation in Eubenangee Swamp NP has been continuous since the 1980s. Traditional owners (Mamu rangers) assist QPWS rangers with maintenance of these restoration areas as well as carrying out revegetation works in the Nandroya Falls and Misty Mountains areas.
With the memorandum of understanding between TREAT and QPWS renewed on the 9th June, we can all rest assured that we can continue to assist and provide vegetative needs for both TREAT and QPWS projects across the Wet Tropics region. I look forward to tallying the tremendous efforts of TREAT volunteers over the last financial year, as well as working with you all into the future.
FRUIT COLLECTION DIARY - April to June 2023
Red Bean Tree
Northern Red Ash
Red Leaf Fig
Small Leaved Fig
Walking Stick Palm
Broad Leaved Paperbark
7.3.10, 7.8.4, 7.8.1, 7.8.2
4/04, 5/04, 12/04, 28/04/2023
Thin Leaved Coondoo
Small Leaved Lilly Pilly
Species and Common names taken from 'Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants Edition 8' online key: