Brush Tail Rock Wallaby Post-Fire Recovery
The 2019-20 summer bushfires devastated much of Australia’s natural landscapes, and South East Queensland was no exemption. The bushfires greatly affected Main Range National Park and came eerily close to QTFN’s Long-term holding property: Aroona Station. Properties untouched by the fire like Aroona and much of the central Little Liverpool Range now provide refuge habitat for many threatened species. Our neighbours and community work to restore and rebuild what was burnt.
The Brush-tailed Rocky wallaby is one of the species identified at a national scale to have suffered significantly from the fires. The northern population of this species was significantly impacted, particularly through Main Range. Our ecology team have buddied up with The University of Queensland and landholders from the Lockyer, Ipswich and Scenic Rim local government areas to do something for Brush-tails in our region. We will be working together to help rock wallabies recover on our partnership of five properties, documenting where they remain and where they have disappeared, how the fire has impacted their habitat, and remediating low quality habitat to aid the species recovery.
From the bad news of the fires, the early stages of the project are turning up some inspiring finds. Of the five sites the team surveyed, we have found evidence of brush-tail rock wallabies persisting at all locations, including the severely burnt ones. The habitat quality appears to vary extensively between the sites, with burnt sites generally having higher weed coverage. Future years of the project will support landholders to reduce weed coverage and restore native vegetation at these rock-wallaby home sites. In other good news, from the cameras we have assessed so far, there is little evidence of increases in predator numbers or activity, a large threat to a species ability to recovery after fire.
One of the biggest celebrations comes from our field ecologist, Georgie Braun, who confirmed the presence of a brush-tailed rock wallaby population on Mount Grey, on the eastern boundary of Aroona Station. Prior to this survey, this population had not been recorded since 1968 and was thought to have vanished.
While this monitoring season has left us asking more questions, it is an exciting road ahead that we share with our community and neighbours in improving our understanding of the brush-tailed rock wallaby and its population in Southeast Queensland.
We would like to thank the Department of Environment and Science Community Sustainability Action Grants scheme for supporting this project, our legendary landholders for joining us in this effort, and our collaborators at The University of Queensland for coming along for the ride.