Major threats to American national parks are a clear reminder that we need to remain vigilant about the future protection of our own national parks (inset) and US President Donald Trump. Photos: Fred McKie and whitehouse.gov
Protection lost at the stroke of a pen After myriad impacts of human destruction on the environment were finally recognised several decades ago, the focus shifted towards finding solutions. In the arena of nature conservation, national parks and other protected areas were regarded as essential to preserving our truly wonderful biodiversity and unique natural landscapes. World conventions, national and state legislation, the development of conservation science, and the increase of our protected area estate, seemed to have set Australia on the path of preserving what remained after 200 years of intensive and extensive development and resource use, and the invasion of feral species. The scales were being re-balanced somewhat.
Then, here in Queensland, we experienced the snowball effect of the unravelling of environmental protection, which also appeared to escalate around Australia. In addition to understaffing and underfunding, protected areas were also beleaguered by external threats - in particular, increasingly coming under attack from the governments that created them in the first place.
The Townsville Bulletin breaks the sad news on Facebook last Thursday of Debbie the cockatoo’s death.
Stay informed in aftermath of Cyclone Debbie The havoc caused by Cyclone Debbie has triggered many closures of Queensland national parks and if planning to venture into the national parks, as always it’s wise to check the park alerts on the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing website for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.
Wildlife fared badly when the cyclone made landfall in north Queensland. Debbie the cockatoo, rescued by Townsville Bulletin photographer Alix Sweeney after she found it battered and sodden among cyclone debris, captured the nation’s attention but unfortunately did not survive.
Some Australian birds are shrinking in size, possibly as part of climate change adaptation. Photo: Supplied
Signs of climate change adaptation evident Australian animals and plants are evolving to cope with climate change, it has been suggested.
The Conversation reports on findings into “temporary changes in organisms’ physical and biochemical functions that help them deal with adverse conditions or shifts in the timing of environmental events”.
It points to examples of such “plastic changes” in vinegar flies and butterflies. Some cases are not as clear-cut as to whether the cause is the direct result of environmental changes or a consequence of natural selection, such as some Australian birds becoming smaller and findings from studies of eucalypts.
More koala habitat is being destroyed in Queensland, near Dalby. Photo: Frankzed (Flickr)
Coal seam gas wells approval is death knell for critical koala habitat The Australian Koala Foundation (AKF) has hit out at Federal Government approval for the destruction of 54ha of koala habitat on Queensland’s Western Downs to make way for coal seam gas wells.
The ABC has reported that Shell-owned gas company QGC’s own reports submitted to the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy in relation to an application to drill 25 new wells near Dalby flagged that critical habitat would likely be affected.
AKF chief executive Deborah Tabart has been quoted as labelling the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 as “a complete was of time to protect koala habitat”.
New night parrot community found A new community of an elusive parrot, thought practically extinct until its discovery in remote Western Queensland in 2013, has been found.
Australian Wildlife Conservancy senior field ecologist John Young and another researcher are confident they have the heard the calls of the elusive night parrot, one of Australia’s most endangered birds, in Goneaway National Park in Central West Queensland.
Young’ discovery brings the total of known night parrot sites to 10 in a 350km arc stretching from Boulia to Stonehenge.
Keen twitchers have also recently captured the first photograph of a night parrot in Western Australia, the first confirmed sighting in that state in more than a century.
Beach closed to protect last hatchlings to emerge The beach at Mon Repos Conservation Park, near Bundaberg, has been closed at the end of a below-average turtle hatching season, to enable the remaining clutches to hatch without disturbance.
Turtle Encounter Tours have been popular as always, but lower hatching activity than usual has led to visitor numbers being intentionally cut prior to the beach closure about a fortnight ago.
Queensland National Parks Minister, Steven Miles, said: “The beach stays closed until the end of April to protect the remaining clutches of hatchlings as they emerge. Every hatchling counts.”
The Yuraygir Coastal Walk - 65km of undeveloped coast to explore
Win a four-day hiking experience amid spectacular scenery
The Yuraygir Coastal Walk is spectactular and you can experience it – with up to nine friends – for nothing!
All you have to do is win NPAQ’s annual fundraising raffle.
The winner of the major prize from Yuraygir Walking Experiences will receive a customisable four-day hike, choosing between a full-guided King Tide walk for two people including all meals and accommodation or options for 10 people. The packages for the group experience involve either DIY accommodation, camping and meals with a guide or an unguided walk that includes a daily lunch pack.
The prize, valued at $2790, can even be transferred to someone else.
State of the Park 2017: an optimistic outlook for the future of our protected area estate Issue 14 of Protected magazine is now available for download and features the 2017 review of the state of national parks in Queensland.
State of the Park 2017, authored by NPAQ member Wade Lewis, highlights several positive developments over the past year including advances made by the State Government in its approach to national park acquisition, planning and management.
PhD student Julen Gonzalez-Redin meanwhile delves into the drivers of unsustainability in tropical regions, highlighting how protection efforts in the Wet Tropics may be causing Queenslanders an Australians in general to be complacent about the risk of biodiversity loss elsewhere.
NPAQ’s Instagram feed featuring curated images of Queensland national parks.
Calling all photography enthusiasts and Instagrammers! Submissions of high-resolution photographs from talented photographers for use in Protected magazine are always gratefully received by NPAQ and now more nature lovers can share their own Queensland national parks experiences with us via Instagram.
If you use Instagram, be sure to follow us @nationalparksassocqld and use the hashtags #connectandprotect or #nationalparksqld when posting your snaps from outings within Queensland’s national parks to grant us permission to repost. If your photograph is chosen to be shared with our Instagram following, we will be sure to tag you!
Only about a dozen sites remain for NPAQ’s Annual Easter Camp, so be sure to book without delay to ensure you don’t miss out!
The camp will be at a private campground known as Yandilla, in Mt Kilcoy, adjacent to Conondale National Park. The campground has flushing toilets and hot showers available.
The property provides opportunities for walkers, photographers and bird watchers alike, with several waterfalls on the property, interesting flora and fauna, and a bird list of 160 species, not to mention the features of the nearby Conondale National Park.
Cost: Over 14s $92.50 per person camping fees + $8 NPAQ extended outing fee; under 14s free.
Birds in Backyards Birds in Backyards is a research, education and conservation program focusing on the birds that live where people live. Get involved by becoming a member and taking part in our online surveys. Learn how you can create bird-friendly spaces in your garden and local community. Find out more about Australian birds and their habitats.
Help map feral animal sightings in your local area.
Feather Map Ongoing
Become a citizen scientist today by collecting wetland bird feathers you find on the ground or in the water and help our researchers create the first ever Feather Map of Australia.
Weed Spotters Network Queensland
Prevention and early intervention are the most cost-effective means of dealing with potential, new and emerging weeds in Queensland.
The Weed Spotters' Network Queensland aims to find, identify and document those new occurrences of potential weeds at an early stage so that preventative actions can be taken.
It seeks to continue a community-based weed alert system in Queensland, based on the model developed by the previous Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management.
Wildlife Spotter Ongoing
Become a citizen scientist and assist researchers by looking for animals in wilderness photos taken by automated cameras around Australia. Anyone can join in and you can do it all online.
WomSAT (Wombat Survey and Analysis Tools) is a resource for communities to record sightings of wombats across the country.