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Jan 22, 2018

ONGOING RESEARCH VITAL FOR CASSOWARY CONSERVATION

Cassowary and Red Lures
Cassowary and Red Lures

With donors help, Rainforest Rescue sponsored important research on the various aspects of the ecology of the threatened Southern Cassowary. The research was conducted by an honours student from Southern Cross University, NSW Australia. Under the guidance of wildlife ecologist Dr Ross Goldingay and CSIRO cassowary expert Dr David Westcott, a comprehensive cassowary survey was conducted.

Conducted in the Daintree coastal lowlands, situated 120 km north of Cairns and within the World Heritage Wet Tropics region of north-eastern Queensland, Australia. The Daintree lowlands are one of six priority cassowary management areas, comprising of identified critical cassowary habitat. It is only the second comprehensive cassowary survey of the Daintree region, the first being almost 20 years ago.

The student and researcher was accompanied by Indigenous Jabalbina rangers whilst surveying the more remote areas. Monitoring and caring for cassowaries is of high cultural importance and a priority action on Jabalbina’s management plan.

'A privilege it has been indeed to have spent such deep time in the ancient forests of the Kuku Yalanji people with these superb birds. I am very happy with the outcomes of my fieldwork, it took lots of legwork to get the data but it's been worth every step'  Research Student

The aims of the research was to

  • Record any sign of cassowary (sighting, prints, scats and vocalizations) on 31 sites
  • To assess habitat parameters and survey variables that may influence usage by, or detectability of these birds.
  • To monitor these sites with motion sensor camera traps and attempt photographic identification of individuals.
  • To compare lean season fruit resource use to fruit resource availability by through dietary analysis of scats and identification and quantification of fruit on the forest floor.

An experimental survey technique was also trialled whereby coloured lures (imitating fruit) were secured to the base of trees in front of camera traps.

Thanks to Rainforest Rescues assistance in providing camera traps, cassowaries were detected on all 31 sites and 45-50 individual birds have been photographically identified.

Ongoing research on Cassowary populations is vital for assessment & evaluation of rainforest protection and restoration methods. Signs of Cassowary returning to and being sighted in an area is the single most effective way to confirm that what we're doing is working. Without supporters help we could not continue this vital work to provide habitat for the Southern Cassowary and ensure it's survival. Thank you to all of our supporters who understand and are a part of this work!

Cassowary caught by camera trap
Cassowary caught by camera trap
Oct 30, 2017

Upcycling Waste for Conservation

Installing the bollards
Installing the bollards

Even in remote areas such as the Daintree, dumped tyres are an environmental issue. Over 600 old tyres had to be removed from a property along Rosewood Road before any rainforest conservation work could be undertaken. In addition to tyre dumping, illegal vehicle access to rainforest properties has caused significant damage to newly planted trees. Rainforest Rescue has been working with Bridgestone Australia to find one solution to this continuing problem.

In 2010 Rainforest Rescue purchased Lot 46 in the Daintree to rescue the degraded rainforest site. Over 180 tons of debris were removed from the property including dumped tyres. We planted over 40,000 trees to help restore the rainforest habitat to its former glory. Disaster struck in 2016 when some idiots in a Ute illegally drove onto the site and purposefully destroyed an area of newly planted trees. Action was needed to prevent this from reoccurring. 

We looked for a long-lasting solution that would prevent vehicles from entering protected rainforest and destroying seedlings or illegally dumping old tyres and treads in the forest. Re-using rubber from old dumped tyres seemed to be an appropriate material to make vehicle barriers. However, we also wanted to make sure any solution had a low environmental and visual impact. Working with Bridgestone Australia we contacted a number of tyre recycling companies to find a solution. 

After a number of failed designs from different manufacturers, Molectra Technologies came up with a viable solution using vulcanisation of old rubber crumb – importantly not using any chemicals in the recycling/upcycling process. Molectra has manufactured 12 prototype recycled tyre bollards that represents a double win for the environment by stopping vehicle access, protecting one of the oldest rainforests on the planet and providing a new use for old tyres.

"It’s been an interesting process trying to develop a sustainable solution to the problem. Over the past 18 months we’ve learned a lot about reuse and recycling of rubber! Reseach and Development projects always throw out interesting challenges, but with patience and professionality these have been navigated and now we have recycled tyre bollards in the ground protecting trees – result!"         

We’re currently testing the prototype bollards to protect the latest tree planting at the new Cape Kimberley Wildlife Corridor. We’re monitoring the effectiveness of the bollards and will report back on progress. In 2-3 years the trees will be big enough to form their own barrier and we will remove the bollards to use elsewhere – following the ethos of reduce > reuse > recycle to lessen our footprint on the planet.

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This project has been supported through Bridgestone’s Tomorrow Matters initiative, which seeks to find new and better ways of using technology; encourage our children to find solutions for tomorrow; and help ensure a healthy environment for generations to come.

Drone image of the track
Drone image of the track
Joe, Basil and a rainforest seedling
Joe, Basil and a rainforest seedling

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Oct 30, 2017

Digitally Mapping Threatened Areas

Joose Helle, RR International Intern
Joose Helle, RR International Intern

Rainforest Rescue has recently developed an International Research Internship in partnership with the University of Sydney Study Abroad Program which allows international students to work with environmental organisations and undertake bespoke research projects in order to support Rainforest Rescue and its conservation activities. Our current intern is Joose Helle. Joose is undertaking a GIS (Geographical Information Systems) mapping project with Rainforest Rescue as part of his MSc in Geoinformatics at the University of Helsinki.

Joose's research utilises IT, remote sensing and other spatial data to monitor and map conservation activity across the Daintree rainforest, including Rainforest Rescue’s largest restoration success story at Lot 46 at Cape Tribulation.

The mapping exercises are utilising drone flybys to create a digital terrain model which will show the rate of growth of restoration on the site.

Digital mapping and imaging sets a baseline of data and therefore allows for longitudinal studies. It also creates a geospatial framework for embedding geological surveys which can be compared over time.

Past air photography from 1976 shows when Lot 46 and the areas around it were denigrated by cattle grazing. Encouragingly current images show significant changes made by Rainforest Rescue since undertaking restoration efforts in the Daintree. We look forward to being able to give our supporters access to these maps and images through our website.

Other important news is that the University of Adelaide and James Cook University will be collaborating to launch an exciting research project on Lot 46 which will look at impacts of climate change on rainforest tree growth. Watch this space.

As a Guardian of Lot 46, your support is vital for protecting this Living Laboratory!

 
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