BOOBOOK Consulting was engaged by South West NRM to carry out an ecological assessment of Mt Tabor property on behalf of the Bidjara traditional owners. Following a desktop assessment of documented values, the property was visited by three BOOBOOK staff during the period 8-12 October 2014. The aim of the visit was to validate desktop findings, expand where possible on existing knowledge, and identify potential management strategies and recommendations to consolidate knowledge and protect ecological values into the future.
The seven existing Collaborative Area Management or ‘cluster’ groups were formed as part of a South West NRM (SWNRM), QLD state government funded initiative. These groups of landmanagers came together and formed associations, allowing them to purchase fencing materials at a reduced cost. These groups then built exclusion fences surrounding their properties, helping each other and sharing fencing equipment. Once these fences are completed, the groups will work to mitigate shared issues within the clusters. Some of these issues include non-domestic and feral animals which apply an unsustainable grazing pressure and wild dogs who predate on livestock.
The Collaborative Area Management project aims to increase diversity on properties, allowing landmanagers to continue with or return to sheep. The sheep and wool industry can then benefit local towns through increased employment.
In order to inform property management planning for Bulloo Downs station, southwestern Queensland, a survey to identify habitat and hotspots for Grey Grasswren Amytornis barbatus barbatus was conducted in the Bulloo Lakes wetland system during 7-1 1 October 2013. Although known to occur in south-central parts of the system, mainly south of the NSW State border, there have been few if any previous
records of Grey Grasswren from northern parts of the system. This nominate subspecies of Grey Grasswren is listed as Vulnerable under the Commonwealth EPBC Act 1999 and is considered to be declining in NSW.
The survey was funded by South West NRM Ltd and conducted by two ornithologists with extensive experience of this highly secretive bird from floodplains of southwestern Queensland and adjacent South Australia and New South Wales. Focussing on shrublands of lignum Muehlenbeckia florulenta in dried wetlands in the ar north and north-east of the Bulloo River's terminal wetlands, 38 sites were
searched. Characteristics of vegetation and substrate at each site were documented
and examples of habitat were photographed.
Grey Grasswrens were seen andlor heard at nine (9) sites within five (5) localities widely spread across the study area on Bulloo Downs. Grasswrens were detected in communities that varied in cover, height, diameter and greenness of lignum shrubs. In most cases they were found where some lignum occurred as joined clumps and commonly where short plants occupied some of the substrate. No grasswrens were detected in massive lignum clumps in and around the dried lakes; in these sites, water persists longest and once dry the ground is mostly bare. Belalie Acacia stenophylla shrubs were present at some of the sites where grasswrens were recorded. Old man saltbush Atriplex nummularia, a habitat sometimes used by Grey Grasswrens, is widespread in lowlands immediately surrounding these northern Bulloo Lakes wetlands.
The survey results increase the known extent of occurrence of the subspecies by over 600 km2 and extend its range 26 km northwards. Together with enhanced knowledge of its habitat preferences and abundance, this greatly improves its conservation prospects. Presence of the Grey Grasswren places responsibility on landholders and NRM practitioners to wisely manage its lignum swamp habitat. No
immediate conservation action has been identified. But it is recommended that suitable graded firebreaks be maintained and added, to minimise loss of habitat for Grey Grasswrens, especially around a cluster of five sites in Jerridah Channel occupied by grasswrens. Reduction of likely predation by feral cats may be desirable if cost effective control can be achieved. Recognising the preliminary scope of the
project, other recommendations call for follow-up surveys to consolidate the present findings, determine site fidelity of the grasswrens, and develop deeper understanding of their ecological requirements and threats to survival in the Bulloo Lakes system.
A risk assessment of water dependent threatened species and communities and water assets of southwest Queensland from coal seam gas and coal mining
Red Leaf Projects was engaged by the South West NRM Ltd regional body to collate, review and summarise the information relating to the water dependent iconic and threatened species and communities and water assets of the Bulloo, Paroo, Warrego and Nebine catchments of the SWNRM region. A summary of significant datasets, scientific research, publications and findings is provided. Additionally, a number of analyses were conducted to identify the relative vulnerabilities and level of risk of these ecological assets to coal seam gas and mining development. Landscape linkages that sustain ecosystem functioning and species resilience were also identified along with management focused recommendations. The outcomes of this review including recommendations provide SWNRM with a platform to initiate community discussion and as a focus for future projects and funding opportunities. It also provides substantial input into the proposed bioregional assessments of the Commonwealth Government and will be used to update the SWNRM strategic plans.