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Supporting Australia’s biodiversity and scientific research

Date: 1-Jan-2016

Brooklyn Wildlife Sanctuary is a spectacular 60,000 hectare property in far north Queensland that supports more biodiversity than any other private parcel of land in Australia.

Protecting world heritage listed rainforest and the upper catchment of the mighty Mitchell River, Brooklyn is the focus of a five-year Swire/Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) partnership. Home to 45 per cent of all Australian bird species and 30 per cent of all native mammal species, Brooklyn is a true ‘hotspot’ for Australia’s wildlife. However, the wildlife of this region is under threat from wildfires, feral animals and weeds. Indeed, across northern Australia natural assets are in sharp decline and business as usual will result in further extinctions.

Swire and AWC are working together to show how the decline in Australia’s wildlife can be halted and reversed. To this end, the focus of the Swire/AWC partnership is on enhancing the conservation programme at Brooklyn, making it a ‘showcase’ for land management and science in north Queensland and providing a catalyst for regional conservation initiatives.

Swire’s investment involves the employment of Brooklyn’s senior ecologist, Jeannette Kemp, who is tasked with designing strategies to control the key threats to Brooklyn’s native fauna and flora and implementing an extensive scientific research and monitoring programme. After just 12 months our partnership is already delivering a range of measurable outcomes:

  • Fire management: Brooklyn is now operating as a base from which AWC is coordinating the design and delivery of fire management across an area of 600,000 hectares. Covering multiple tenures (pastoral, indigenous, conservation) this is the first programme of its kind in Queensland and, to date, has resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in the area burned by wildfires. This is an outstanding result that is not only protecting Brooklyn’s complex ecosystems, it is also significantly reducing carbon in the atmosphere.
  • Biodiversity surveys: AWC’s biological survey programme, which in 2014 involved over 4,500 trap nights and 49 vegetation surveys (a level of scientific effort unparalleled in any national park in the region), is documenting the 500 native animal species expected to occur in Brooklyn.
  • Key indicator species: monitoring key species, including endangered animals like highland frogs, forms part of a programme to measure and report on the ecological health of Brooklyn. Brooklyn’s wet tropics world heritage area provides a vital refuge for a number of threatened rainforest frogs that find refuge only in high elevation habitats. During the survey programme two endangered frogs, the Waterfall Frog and the Common Mist Frog, were detected in good numbers. Elsewhere across their range these frogs have suffered serious population declines since the 1990s, due largely to Chytrid Fungus which has caused extinctions in some frog species. On Brooklyn, these endangered frogs appear secure and are potentially recolonising higher parts of their range.

With Swire’s support, AWC is now successfully extending its science and land management programme at Brooklyn - setting new standards in fire management and feral animal control - and undertaking a nationally significant programme of biological surveys and scientific research. 

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