Letting the Cassowary Tell a Cautionary Tale
Julian Gray. CEO Rainforest Rescue
The Cassowary is
often used as a hero image for conservation in tropical Far North Queensland.
How fitting it is to have a dinosaur bird in the Daintree with its lineage
going back millions of years to the ancient Gondwanan Rainforest. However, the
Cassowary also helps us tell a more modern and precarious tale.
impacts of climate change and development are impacting on rainforests around
the world. We know that half the trees on the planet have been lost and 15
billion trees are chopped or burned down every year. Yet these facts are so
nebulous they’re difficult to comprehend, or know how to take action. When we
bring focus to the local level it’s easier to see what can be done. The
Cassowary helps us tell this tale.
Cassowary photo © Paul Ijsendoorn
In the Daintree,
the lowland rainforest is under the greatest threat from break-up and change. Research
shows the disproportionate impacts on biodiversity when rainforest is
fragmented. The Cassowary relies on certain species of fruit to get it through
lean times; the availability and distribution of these fruit will impact on
future Cassowary numbers. In addition, the Cassowary is needed by certain trees
for seed dispersal; its ability to move through the local environment will
impact on tree distribution. When we start to destroy natural habitat, build
roads, introduce invasive weeds and generally disrupt the Cassowary’s mobility
we upset this balance.
Add in the extra
pressures brought by greater variability in weather patterns, from droughts and
floods, the resilience of the rainforest starts to be compromised. If a
Cassowary is unable to travel to an area and disperse a seed, we lose the
potential of a tree and all the other species that rely on that tree for life.
A small impact, but one that is cumulative.
Luckily we can do
something about this. You and fellow rainforest rescuers are buying back
strategic rainforest properties to create wildlife corridors to stop
fragmentation of the unique and ancient lowland Daintree forest.
the 27 properties saved by you and fellow rainforest rescuers in the Daintree,
21 are now covered with Nature Refuge Covenants, protecting them forever. In
addition, two further properties have been gifted to the adjacent Daintree
National Park. The remaining four properties will be protected with covenants
once restoration work and other legal processes are complete.
These actions are having a real and significant
impact and wouldn’t be possible without your support.