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Wildlife Corridors

Wildlife Corridors

July 26th 2008

Attendees heard what appears to be a wildlife corridor on a map is not necessarily a corridor that is actually used by wildlife, and that we need to do some careful observations on where wildlife is currently traveling and what they will need in the future.

Dr Ronda Green spoke on the reasons wildlife need corridors ie. young animals seeking territories, animals seeking food and water, seasonal movements or after natural or human-induced disasters, breeding requirements, long-distance or altitudinal migrations, recolonization after local extinctions and the maintenance of genetic diversity. She presented a list of threatened fauna in the Beaudesert Shire and emphasized that what functions as a corridor for one species may not be usable for another. Some animals like common brushtail possums could move through a variety of habitats while others, such as the closely-related bobuck, hesitated to leave forested areas. Strong flying birds and fruitbats may fly out across large expanses of open paddocks whereas small birds of the understorey and some rainforest species may need a chain of habitat patches very close to each other while some lizards and small marsupials may need continuous habitat.

Keith McCosh, Natural Resources Officer for the Scenic Rim, presented maps of the Scenic Rim showing where major wildlife corridors had been identified by the EPA, and where he suggested other corridors may be important. He also spoke of the problems of isolation and genetic inbreeding that may be affecting small populations in areas such as Tamborine Mountain and Moogerah Peaks. ‘How and where are the greater gliders and other animals moving in order to exchange genetic material with other areas such as Lamington National Park?’ he asked and ‘Are they in fact doing so?’ Habitat fragmentation, he said, is the biggest threat facing our wildlife in the future, so corridors will become more and more critical.

Jenny Davis, wildlife officer of Redlands Shire said that some animals just don’t use corridors. A koala she said ‘gets a fixed mind-set. He’ll be up a large tree, see another large tree in the distance he remembers visiting in the past, and he just comes down and starts going there, never mind that there is now a six-lane highway and shopping centre in the way and planners have determined there’s a corridor he can use somewhere else.’The meeting also heard about the use of ‘glider poles’, recycled telegraph poles positioned so that gliders could travel across open areas, and the importance of shelter boxes or PVC piping so they could hide from owls after landing. These appear especially important in breeding season when hungry chicks may be fed lots of gliders. Shielding forested areas from bright streetlights that deterr nocturnal animals was also extremely important.

Geography teacher and LACA executive member Anne Paige spoke about the restrictions of wildlife movement around the new road constructions at and near Jerry’s Downfall, and how the concerns of residents had eventually resulted in some provisions being made to allow access to wildlife under the proposed ten lane highway. These provisions were ‘better than nothing’, but existing ones were not high enough for larger animals, and often flooded for use by any land animal, and there was no vegetation or other shelter that might be needed to encourage some species to enter. Surveys showed that some animals were using existing tunnels, but no one yet knows whether the rarer species are doing so. A new underpass is scheduled for completion in three years, and more, she said, were needed. Mr McCosh also commented that wildlife proof fences may be needed to direct the animals to safe areas for crossing.

There was ensuing discussion on which areas might need revegetation (whether by planting or fencing off to allow natural regeneration); inadequate communication between government departments; residents concerned with preservation of biodiversity; landowners keen to preserve biodiversity along with production and landowners concerned with the effects of the designation of wildlife corridors on the use of their properties.