The restoration season is in full-swing in the Daintree with the Rainforest Rescue crew busy propagating and caring for rainforest seedlings.
As all trees planted by the Rainforest Rescue crew and volunteers are grown at our nursery, the Nursery Manager must ensure at least 20,000 seedlings are propagated annually. Most will be planted on sites we are restoring and a small quantity will be sold to local land holders restoring their own Daintree rainforest properties.
“Seeds are collected in the later part of the year when trees are fruiting; all are from the Daintree lowlands rainforest ensuring local provenance.
“Before restoring each property, we survey it and record the plant variety – helping us plan the appropriate species mix” said Joe Reichl, Land Manager.
Nursery success story
At any given time, there are approximately 6000 potted plants within the nursery shade house, and around 4000 in the sun hardening area. Propagation requires the collection of local seeds which are then sorted and catalogued prior to being sown for the germination process.
The nursery has propagated 204 rainforest species. This is definitely a ‘success story’ as not all rainforest seeds germinate easily, and many seeds are available only intermittently.
With the support of our donors we reached an incredible milestone at the end of 2014 – we planted our 70,000th rainforest tree in the Daintree!
This is an incredible achievement, one that we are very proud of, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our dedicated donors and volunteers. Thank you very much.
We want to share with you the achievements from 2014:
Thank you – YOU made this possible
Our productive Daintree Nursery
Four years ago, our Daintree Nursery could propagate and grow 3000 plants per year. Last year, the nursery team propagated and grew over 20,000 plants; a figure set to continue to grow.
This increase in nursery capacity was made possible by donations and grants. The funding enabled our Daintree Nursery Manager and our Daintree Land Manager to streamline potting and growing processes. We were able to install steel framed benches to hold all the seedling trays, additional planting materials, plus supplementary irrigation equipment, all which have contributed to more effective outcomes.
At any given time, there are approximately 6000 potted plants within the nursery shade house, and around 4000 in the sun hardening area. Propagation requires the collection of local seeds which are then sorted and catalogued prior to being sown for the germination process, and last year the nursery propagated 204 different rainforest species. This is definitely a ‘success story’ as not all rainforest seeds germinate easily, and many seeds are available only intermittently.
The decision about what seeds to collect and propagate is based on the needs of the restoration site. Local fruits are collected from within the Daintree Lowlands; their seeds retrieved and readied for propagation.
Plans for this year
Thanks to your continued support and donation we have begun the year busily, maintaining the nearly 35,000 trees we have planted in the Daintree over the last two years – it takes two years of watering and weeding before the young seedlings are strong enough to grow without our maintenance. The late arriving wet season meant we had to water for much longer into the season.
Now the rain has begun falling (and falling) and this gives us the confidence to begun planting more seedlings.
Scoping out the most high conservation properties to protect
We have also begun planning our next purchases. First our volunteer Daintree advisors conduct detailed surveys to assess priority properties using our Daintree Land Acquisition Criteria Score Card. This enables us to rank and prioritise properties for purchase (and to ensure we use donors’ gifts as appropriately as possible).
It also ensures we focus our attention on acquiring property with high conservation values that provide habitat corridors for flora and fauna species, a number of which are officially listed as endangered or threatened.
The ten ranking criteria include: forest structural integrity, regional significance, degree of plant endemism, plant species conservation status, connectivity to other protected properties, corridor function, strategic location, existing degradation, settlement threat potential, and value for money.
It is already shaping up to be another busy year protecting and restoring rainforest – however with your support in Adopting Vulnerable Rainforest in Australia we can make a tangible difference.
Restoring rainforests to its former glory takes time, heavy lifting and lots of back-bending but the end result is rewarding and incredibly fulfilling said our Daintree Land Manager, Joe Reichl.
In early 2012, gifts from donors enabled us to secure another two special rainforest properties. We were very keen to purchase lots 82 and 83 Rosewood Road Cow Bay as they had council building approval rights and posed the risk of more dwellings being built.
We already owned six properties in this area, so these two additional ones enabled us to extend the Baralba Corridor Nature Refuge - a valuable wildlife corridor that links the Daintree National Park and the World Heritage area.
Flora and fauna surveys verified their high conservation value. The presence of rare plants with limited distribution (like the Rhaphidophora hayi vine), significant sized buttress trees, and limited clearing (at the time we estimated 80% undisturbed rainforest), further increased our desire to protect this rainforest forever.
Once we had secured their purchase, restoring the 20% of disturbed forest did provide some interesting challenges and work for Joe and his team - work that they have just now completed.
For the last two and a half years our team toiled in the heat and the wet to bring the rainforest back.
Joe describes it as “it was like someone took a cookie-cutter and removed a chunk of pristine rainforest from each of the properties”. These chunks were meant to be house blocks (neither of which were ever built) instead a massive stockpile of debris and sheds accumulated and these were eventually overgrown with weeds that were knee-high and covered the old infrastructure.
Our purchases ensured these precious rainforest was not cleared and the properties are now protected forever with no chance of potential development.
There is no rest for Joe and his team of volunteers and part-time staff – they are now back at other properties donors have helped us saved forever - weeding and watering trees they have planted in the last two years and removing younger oil palms.
The purchase and restoration of these two properties would not have been possible without the support of our donors – thank you very much. Your support in adopting rainforest helps Protect Rainforest Forever.
We now have our sights set on another two pieces of land to buy and restore and with your support we will save them!
What we have achieved together:
Canopy cover, number of species, plant density and rate of growth are all key indicators of forest development.
At Lot 46 Cape Tribulation Road in the Daintree area of far north Queensland, Rainforest Rescue is monitoring all those factors and more to measure the success of a large scale rainforest restoration project.
This Cassowary Conservation Reserve is one of 24 properties that Rainforest Rescue has now adopted and protected forever in the Daintree Lowlands Rainforest.
The property was partly cleared in the 1960s, first for cattle grazing and later for Oil Palm cultivation. More recently it had become a dumping ground for rubbish, cars, caravans, boats, and a haven for impenetrable weeds.
In 2012 we secured funding which set the property on its long journey back to rainforest. Monitoring is based on periodic measurement of growth rates of both planted and ‘volunteer or wildling’ trees in areas left for natural regeneration. The property was divided into working zones and seven 50 x 20m monitoring plots were laid out in the different zones.
In addition, twelve permanent photographic points were set up within the working zones and plots to allow consistent recording of rainforest re-development and growth over time.
Results to date have been extremely positive, showing remarkable growth rates and rapid canopy closure – the key to rainforest structure. The monitoring will continue until we reach a point where this restored rainforest rules! By the looks of things, we don’t have long to wait for this to happen…
We will continue to restore this rainforest and others we have purchased thanks to generous donations. Thank you.
By Madeleine Faught, Chair Rainforest RescueCassowary Conservation ReserveCanopy cover, number of species, plant density, and rate of growth are key indicators of forest development.
- See more at: http://www.rainforestrescue.org.au/blog/#sthash.Oz0pd7o4.dpuf
As always, our team in the Daintree has been kept busy as dry weather turned to wet, and then Cyclone Ita hit the coast!
At LOT 46 Cape Tribulation Road nine semi-trailer loads of rubbish, including 13 car bodies, a shed, a tank stand and a 24 foot boat trailer were removed. An additional five tonnes was carted out by hand so as not to disturb the delicate plants. A large concrete slab was broken up and buried three metres underground and another 56 oil palms were poisoned.
Rainforest Rescue’s Daintree Property Manager Joe Reichl says: “Oil palms are very aggressive and their roots can spread 60 metres from the trunk. We have to chainsaw the crown and then they implode creating very little rubbish but providing much-needed mulch.”
At the Baralba Corridor Nature Refuge in Rosewood Road, three sheds and a tank stand were cleared but there are still around 1,000 vehicle tyres waiting to be removed.
Since the 1960s Lot 46 was used successively as a pineapple and banana plantation (access too difficult to get the fruit out), a palm oil plantation (conditions too wet for oil production) and later for cattle grazing, until Rainforest Rescue purchased it in 2010, with support from donors.
Almost 4,300 trees were planted in January and February, which were wet months, bringing our Daintree tally to almost 54,000. The new trees are growing vigorously as are the weeds, which are sprayed as the weather allows. At our Daintree Rainforest Plant Nursery, more than 10,000 plants are flourishing in readiness for our volunteer planting event on 14 and 15 June.
In areas that have been re-planted, invasive weeds must be controlled until the canopy closes over. This generally takes at least two years.
In early April, Tropical Cyclone Ita hit the Far North Queensland coast. Although classed as a category 2 cyclone, winds of up to 200km/hr brought down trees and branches, closing roads and cutting off access. Our team has been using machetes and chainsaws to free the new plantings of fallen debris. Luckily there was no damage to the nursery infrastructure.
As always, we are very grateful to you, our donors, who make it possible to purchase these properties to protect them forever. Restoration at Lot 46 is supported through funding from the Australian Government. Restoration at Rosewood Road is supported a grant from the Queensland Government.
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