The Coastal Priorities project is supported by Reef Catchments through funding from the Australian Government’s Reef Trust. It comprises five distinct components:
1. Restoration of Sandringham Wetland Complex
Sandringham Wetland Complex is situated in the Plane Creek Basin, south of Mackay. The focus area within the Complex is the ponded pasture agricultural land adjoining Sandringham Creek.
Reef Catchments is working with landholders in this area to improve farming practices on private property, ultimately for the improvement of habitat value and to improve water quality reaching the estuary. Some examples of works include weed control, installing off stream watering points and fencing (to facilitate grazing management in sensitive areas), construction of fish refugia pools and improving habitat connectivity.
Contact Carlos Bueno
2. Barrier prioritisation and remediation to improve fish migration
In this region there are many species of native fish which migrate between salt and fresh water as part of their lifecycle. Unfortunately, this migration is hindered by a range of barriers, such as culverts, which fish are unable to cross or jump.
In 2015 a report was developed which identified and ranked barriers to fish migration on streams within the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac region. This project will invest into the update of the report, and the inclusion of barriers in wetlands areas.
Following the update of the report and the newly ranked list of fish barriers, Reef Catchments will remediate two of these barriers, to enable fish to migrate between different habitats and complete their life cycle.
Contact Carlos Bueno
3. Eradication of African big-headed ants from Bushy Island
Bushy Island is located approximately 90km east of Mackay. It is a regionally important green turtle (Chelonia mydas) nesting area, and supports a Pisonia grandis forest, of which there is less than 200ha in Australia.
African big-headed ants (Pheidole megacephala) were found on the island. These ants are one of the worst 100 invasive species in the world, given their ability to form super colonies and outcompete other insects, thereby disturbing food webs. A major potential impact from these ants is the rapid population increase of scale insects, which can stress and eventually kill trees.
Work has commenced to eradicate the African big-headed ants from Bushy Island. These works will ultimately protect the Pisonia grandis forest from scale insects, and therefore protect black noddies, which utilise Pisonia trees exclusively for habitat.
Contact Cass Hayward
4. Protection of turtle nesting habitat
The Mackay Whitsunday Isaac region hosts nesting flatback, green and the occasional loggerhead turtle. Reef Catchments, alongside Mackay District Turtle Watch, Mackay Regional Council and a network of dedicated volunteers are working to protect these species and their nesting habitat in the following ways:
⮚ Survey all potential nesting beaches along the mainland and on the islands within our region to identify areas sustaining high nesting populations as well as highlight important rookeries requiring prioritized conservation.
⮚ Partner with Mackay and District Turtle Watch to monitor nest and beach temperatures to further our understanding around the impacts of increasing temperatures on our local populations of hatchlings.
⮚ Work with Mackay Regional Council and private landholders to remediate identified problem lighting, which has been observed to impact nesting females and their hatchlings.
Contact Kymberley O’Neill
5. Protection and enhancement of Threatened Ecological Communities
In the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac region there are two Threatened Ecological Communities (TECs). The first is a coastal rainforest community called ‘littoral rainforest and coastal vine thickets of Eastern Australia’ and it is Critically Endangered. The second is called ‘broadleaf tea tree woodland in high rainfall coastal North Queensland’ and it is Endangered.
Reef Catchments will work with experts to firstly complete an assessment of patches of these communities, to establish the condition of patches within our region from functional to dysfunctional. Once the sites have been assessed, Reef Catchments will select patches to work in and deliver a range of activities to protect and enhance those patches. Some examples of works include fencing, signage and revegetation.
Contact Morgan Thomas