Conservation

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  • The Beginning of Wetlands Project

    The Beginning of Friends of the Wetlands When my wife and I arrived in Russell Island in 2006, it took about a year before we realized the real extent and  diversity of the wetlands and other conservation areas. The reason for this was, that most of the areas were hidden and inaccessible.  We approached council to find out about their plans to bring these diverse areas more accessible to public, and to protect them from the growing urbanization. Council was busy with projects on Stradbroke and on the mainland and it was indicated that we should come back in five years’ time and they would reconsider examining the possibility then.  As a result of this Friends of the Wetlands was born and we started gathering support letters from other island organizations and associations. We were also able to obtain a support letter from the council and one from our local councillor. The project, that was envisaged, was to be a three-stage project with Whistling Kite and Turtle Swamp being the main initial focus. Stage one – in conjunction with the council – data collecting, surveying of the two areas and raising public awareness (for example articles, public meetings and a website. By data collection it was envisaged that we would endeavor to establish what was there. Our interpretation, of what was there, meant that we would: 1. Map and collect data and photos of the areas for their flora diversity. 2. Endeavor to find, document and photograph as many of the fauna species as was possible. 3. Find, photograph and document invasive species, urban impact and the general state of the areas involved. Stage two – in conjunction with the council – designing, planning and preparing tenders. Stage three – in conjunction with the council – implementation of walkways / bikeways. On this basis we set about getting funds from the federal government to enable the first stage of the project. As, at the time, Friends of the Wetlands was not an incorporated body, but a loose group of enthusiastic locals, in order to obtain federal funding, Bay Islands Community Centre agreed to act as our auspicing body. Further Background During the early to mid 2000 Redland City Council changed many areas on Russell Island to conservation areas. As a consequence, more than a third of the island became conservation, not to be developed for urban purposes. Some of these areas had been impacted by growing urbanization, but the majority was, and still is, in pristine condition. Our aim was to document what exists in these areas and to what level they have been impacted by the surrounding urban community. It was proposed that once all the data was collected by GIS mapping survey, plans and maps would be prepared. These maps and plans, with other data collected, would be used to raise public awareness and to further develop plans to give both the island community and visitors to the island controlled public access to these fragile areas. The long term plan and vision was to develop pathways/bikeways, which would link the major wetlands and conservation areas and create a scenic route around our island. The first stage of the project was Whistling Kite and Turtle Swamp, where a survey was conducted, data collected and initial plans prepared in 2009.  On April 21, 2008 the name, Friends of the Wetlands, was first mentioned.
  • Microbats in the Mangroves – Russell Island

    Microbats are small, flying mammals which generally weigh between 4 and 30 grams. There are 70 species in Australia alone, and they inhabit almost every habitat on earth. Many people don’t realise that microbats exist or confuse them with flying foxes (fruit bats). The table below shows some of the differences between flying foxes and microbats. Microbats are extremely important for insect control, many feed on mosquitoes eating anywhere between 25% and 100% of their own body weight in insects every night. They are certainly unsung heroes in Moreton Bay!   Background Microbats comprise approximately twenty-five percent of all land mammal species in Australia, yet they remain the least studied. Severe population declines have been reported across many microbat species worldwide. The primary threat to microbats is habitat modification. In Australia, one of the main habitat modifications is land clearing and development. Currently there is very little information regarding the effects of habitat modification on microbats. Mangrove communities in Australia are recognized as vital ecosystems; they act as coastal water filters, prevent erosion and provide essential habitat for wetland fauna. Recent studies across Australia indicate that mangroves may play an important role as microbat feeding, roosting and breeding habitat. To date, there have been no studies which have looked at the relationship between microbats and mangrove ecosystems in Queensland. Many microbat researchers believe that old growth mangrove forests support large microbat communities. This research project may provide useful ecological knowledge for conserving microbats in coastal mangrove ecosystems. The aim of this project is to answer two main questions:
    1. Are microbats using Grey mangrove forests in south-east Queensland?
    2. Does the structure of the mangroves affect how microbats use the habitat?
    Russell Island, like many of the islands in Moreton Bay, has large mangrove forests which could be important habitat for microbats. The mangroves on Russell and Macleay islands will be sampled as part of a larger project being conducted over south-east Queensland. Sampling consists of harp trapping microbats and recording their calls using detectors placed around the mangrove. Harp trapping causes no harm to the bats and once they are identified and measured they are released. At this stage in the study it is obvious that mangroves are an important microbat habitat in south-east Queensland. Many mature and old growth mangroves support large maternal roosts where mothers raise and protect their babies. There have been a number of species found in the mangroves on Russell Island including the Chocolate wattled bat (Chalinolobus morio) and an undescribed Broadnosed bat species (Scotorepens sp). This study is an Honours project with University of Queensland. It could not be completed without the generous assistance of the Australasian Bat Society, Long Grass Nature Refuge, Pink Heath Project and Bay Islands Conservation. For any further information please contact Julie at julie.brokenbrow@uqconnect.edu.au    

    Microbat

    Flying Fox (Fruit Bat)

    Eats mainly insects and other invertebrates

    Eats predominantly fruit or blossoms

    Small (4 – 30grams depending on species)

    Large (weighing between 100 and 800grams)

    70 species in Australia

    9 species in Australia

    Uses echolocation as main sense

    Uses eyesight as main sense

    Roosts in caves, hollows and tree bark

    Roosts in tree branches