Category: history

Subleasing of Indigenous pastoral land for conservation

AWC subleased 112,000 hectares of Seven Emu from landowner, cattleman and Garawa man Frank Shadforth, marking the first leasing of Aboriginal land by a private conservation organisation to create a private nature reserve.

Pungalina-Seven Emu covers 306,000 hectares of remote Gulf Country, including 100 kilometres of the Calvert River from the interior sandstone escarpments to the coast.

The sanctuary protects 55 kilometres of pristine Gulf coastline that is of national significance to migratory shorebirds and is the only section of shoreline in the Gulf of Carpentaria that is protected from feral herbivores.

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Joint ownership represents new conservation model


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The establishment of Piccaninny Plains Wildlife Sanctuary in the heart of Cape York Peninsula provided an exciting new model for conservation in the private conservation sector in Australia.

The sanctuary was jointly purchased by AWC and The Tony & Lisette Lewis Foundation. AWC is responsible for the design and delivery of conservation land management and science programs on the property.

Covering 165,000 hectares, Piccaninny Plains is AWC’s northernmost sanctuary. It is located in an area of stunning ecological diversity that uniquely blends Australian and New Guinean fauna and flora, and protects a mosaic of rainforest, woodland, wetland and grassland and iconic wildlife like the Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus), Red Goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus) and Spotted Cuscus (Spilocuscus maculatus).

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A new program is created to fight fire with fire

In 2007 AWC’s EcoFire project was born, covering 5 million hectares in the Kimberley and involving 14 properties across multiple tenures (including on AWC, Indigenous and pastoral lands).

The key objectives of the program are to reduce the incidence of extensive, destructive and intense late dry season wildfires, and create a mosaic of burnt and long (3+ years) unburnt habitat in the landscape. In 2008 this groundbreaking program was awarded the Western Australian Environment Award.

EcoFire is the largest non-government fire management program in the country and its success has seen the program extended by AWC across more than 7 million hectares of northern Australia.

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New sanctuary in the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre catchment

Kalamurina Wildlife Sanctuary was established in 2007, transforming a former pastoral station into one of Australia’s largest private (non-profit) nature reserves.

Covering a remarkable 679,000 hectares at the intersection of three of Australia’s central deserts (the Munga-Thirri-Simpson Desert, the Tirari Desert and Sturt’s Stony Desert), the area is critical to the health of the Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre catchment.

The acquisition of Kalamurina linked Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre National Park and the Munga-Thirri-Simpson Desert Reserves. This created a contiguous protected area larger than Tasmania and a refuge for rare and threatened desert wildlife, including the Ampurta (Crest-tailed mulgara, Dasycercus cristicauda), Kultarr (Antechinomys laniger), Eyrean Grasswren (Amytornis goyderi) and Grey Grasswren (Amytornis barbatus).

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Birds Australia gifts Newhaven to AWC

In a historic partnership, Birds Australia (now Birdlife Australia) transferred ownership and management responsibility of Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary to AWC, combining the strengths of both organisations to enhance conservation outcomes.

The sanctuary lies in the arid zone of Central Australia and is renowned as a key bird-watching destination, supporting 174 species of birds.

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Scotia Wildlife Sanctuary home to ambitious reintroduction program

Scotia’s ambitious Endangered Mammal Recovery Project was launched with the aim of securing new populations of six threatened mammal species in western NSW.

In the first year of the program more than 500 animals were released into the 4,000-hectare Stage 1 feral predator-free fenced area. AWC subsequently expanded this safe haven to 8,000 hectares, creating the largest feral-predator free area on mainland Australia (later this would pass to Newhaven and then Mallee Cliffs National Park).

To date, AWC has re-established populations of four nationally threatened mammals: the Bilby (Macrotis lagotis), Numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus), Bridled Nailtail Wallaby (Onychogalea fraenata) and Burrowing Bettong (Bettongia lesueur). For these animals, the work at Scotia is vital to safeguard them against extinction.

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Mount Zero-Taravale becomes a perpetually safeguarded area

In 2004 Mount Zero-Taravale Wildlife Sanctuary was the focus of a historic conservation agreement with the Queensland Government, ensuring protection for the sanctuary in perpetuity.

At the time this was the largest area of private land in Queensland to be granted such protection.

Located in a biodiversity hotspot, Mount Zero-Taravale protects an incredible diversity of species including over 400 species of native vertebrates.

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Sanctuary of national conservation significance

The acquisition of Brooklyn Wildlife Sanctuary in north Queensland in 2004 was a purchase of national conservation significance.

Brooklyn contains an extraordinary concentration of wildlife and provides a refuge for more than 30 species that are threatened with extinction.

Of the more than 300 bird species and 80 mammal species found at Brooklyn, many are restricted to particular rainforest types in the region, including the Golden Bowerbird (Prionodura newtoniana), Victoria’s Riflebird (Ptiloris victoriae), Macleay’s Fig Parrot (Cyclopsitta diophthalma macleayana), Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi), Musky Rat Kangaroo (Hypsiprymnodon moschatus) and several species of Mountain Ringtail Possum.

Emphasising its international conservation significance, Brooklyn is one of the most biodiverse private properties in Australia and protects the largest parcel of privately owned World Heritage listed land on the continent.

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Research into the disappearing Gouldian Finch

With generous support from philanthropist Mike Fidler, AWC started its first major research program into causes of decline in threatened species, focusing on the endangered Gouldian Finch (Chloebia gouldiae).

The research findings revealed the critical importance of effective fire management for reversing the decline of the species. In turn, this highlighted the crucial link between scientific research and conservation land management for generating positive outcomes for Australia’s threatened wildlife.

Today, Mornington is one of the most important sites for Gouldian Finch populations in the Kimberley.

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Tackling Curramore’s weeds to protect threatened species

In 2003 AWC purchased Curramore Wildlife Sanctuary, located in the heart of one of Australia’s true biodiversity hotspots, the Southeast Queensland bioregion.

The property had a remarkable concentration of threatened species, imperilled by an infestation of lantana, a weed of national significance. A key part of AWC’s land management program at the sanctuary has been developing effective techniques for removing lantana and restoring rainforest habitat.

Over the last decade, Sanctuary Manager Klaus Runde and AWC volunteers have removed 45 per cent of the lantana infestation from the property, creating a showcase for lantana control in the region.

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