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Led by FIDO, a huge Fraser Island (K’Gari) BioBlitz from 28 November to 4 December will bring together experts from many areas of biology to carry out a stocktake of the natural resources of the World Heritage island.
Based at the Dilli Village Fraser Island Research and Learning Centre, the BioBlitz is being well supported by the University of the Sunshine Coast, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and FINIA.
The study area extends from the ocean beach to Lake Birrabeen, covering all six dune systems and encompassing most ecosystem types from heathlands, tall forests, swamps, fens and perched dune lakes except for the estuarine environments. It is hoped to achieve more by maintaining a tight and intense focus on this particular study area rather than an island wide hunt.
The study area is very accessible with a number of tracks through it that will allow scientists to easily access representative places of interest.
A BioBlitz on Fraser Island (K’gari) has moved a few steps closer to reality with FIDO setting the proposed dates for the Blitz as 28 November – 4 December 2016. However, before FIDO can launch the promotion for the BioBlitz, which is supported by FINIA, the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, supplementary funding is required to engage a coordinator to liaise with scientists and other participants and retrieve the vital data collected. At this stage, FIDO is only issuing advance warning to alert people to the proposed BioBlitz event: Beach to Boomanjin and Birrabeen.
Details of Beach to Boomanjin and Birrabeen
Fraser Island (K’Gari) is inscribed on the World Heritage list because of its biological, geomorphological and aesthetic values; however, much more biological research is needed to know the extent of K’gari’s natural resources, with a BioBlitz of a discrete part of Fraser Island standing to add greatly to the ecological understanding of this site.
The BioBlitz, which is to be based at Dilli Village, aims to bring together teams of entomologists, botanists, ornithologists, zoologists, herpetologists and other specialist groups (fishes, fungi, etc.) to scour the study area. Each team will develop its own program and modus operandi. It is expected that the team leader will be responsible for compiling a report of the team’s findings to add to the existing data banks being built at USC.
FIDO is seeking to appoint a coordinator before this project can proceed. The coordinator will recruit specialist scientists from a range of disciplines to study the defined research area, which covers a diversity of habitats, to develop an inventory of the natural resources and species within that area. FIDO will also recruit volunteers as necessary to assist scientists and specialists logistically.
The study area includes samples of all six dune systems, including Dune System 4 east of Lake Birrabeen and Dune Systems 5 and 6 in the vicinity of the Boomanjin airstrip. In addition, the area includes three large perched dune lakes, two creeks and a number of old swamps, as well as various forest types. It will be a broad transect of a wide range of ecotypes, from the beach through the foredunes and the freshwater aquatic environments of Govi and Gerrawea Creeks. It will also enable comparison between mined and unmined areas in both the foredune and hind dune areas. It will include the large peat swamp, with its flarks and fens, never before studied in detail.
Dilli Village has accommodation for up to 60 people, as well as a large camping area and 24-hour 240V power, which may be needed for some equipment. It also has a large meeting area. There will be opportunities at Dilli Village each night for the various teams to compare notes and share observations of their field work.
John Sinclair (AO), FIDO
In late 2005, a small group of dedicated people spent two days visiting weed sites on the internationally significant Fraser Island World Heritage Area in a workshop facilitated by the Burnett Mary Regional Group. The group consisted of land managers – Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (National Park), the Department of Natural Resources and Mines (Unallocated State Land), the local council, the Cooperative Research Centre for Weeds, the National Parks Association of Queensland, Fraser Island Defenders Organisation and Sandy Cape Lighthouse Conservation Association as well as Butchulla participants Malcolm Burns, Jo Jo Gala and Marie Wilkinson.
After those two days, it was clear to the group that weeds were just one of many issues threatening the Outstanding Universal Value of this UNESCO-listed site. Following the workshop, the Fraser Island Natural Integrity Alliance (FINIA) was formed with a goal to protect and restore the island’s natural integrity. The FINIA team developed an action plan that provided a framework for ongoing cross-tenure collaboration among the group’s participants and project partners.
Work commenced on addressing the issue of the spread of ‘garden escapees’ around the townships of Eurong and Happy Valley and the historic Sandy Cape Lighthouse that quickly became invasive weeds in the adjoining National Park. In addition to on-ground work to control weeds like mother-in-law’s tongue, Easter cassia, abrus and asparagus fern, FINIA partners also conducted workshops and awareness-raising campaigns to increase awareness and understanding of the damage these non-native, invasive weeds can cause to the island’s unique ecological environments.
As the partnership grew, so did the dedicated effort by group participants and their volunteers. FINIA collaborators ‘branched off’ to lead several other initiatives, including native seed collection; propagation and revegetation (starting with ‘Plant me instead’ replacement programs); pest management of the Jamella pandanus leafhopper and cane toad; marine debris clean-ups; research to address fire, dingo management and increase the knowledge of the island’s unique patterned fens and swamp orchids; erosion and rainfall monitoring; education and awareness (with a newsletter, website and Facebook pages); and cultural heritage mapping in conjunction with the Fraser Island World Heritage Area Indigenous Advisory Committee (which won the Queensland Landcare Award 2015 for Indigenous Land Management).
Members of FINIA gathered on the island recently to celebrate 10 years of collaboration and to review the group’s achievements—enjoying some generous sponsorship by the University of the Sunshine Coast. Mr John Sinclair AO, a long-standing advocate for Fraser Island, said that after 10 years, it was a good time to reflect and plan the next decade, with a recent workshop held at Dilli Village, where it all began. ‘FINIA provides a great vehicle to get things done. It’s overcome a number of issues that hampered on-ground work in the past, but also ensures that we all communicate more effectively’, said Mr Sinclair. ‘FINIA is the catalyst that holds us all together and makes things happen’, added Butchulla elder, Glen Miller. ‘Without FINIA, it’s unlikely that we would have been able to achieve the success we have and the range of projects that FINIA now supports’.
The BMRG’s Conservation Partnership Manager and current FINIA Chair, Sue Sargent, was a participant in the original workshop. ‘FINIA has been an incredible vehicle for the World Heritage Area and thanks to the support of the island’s land managers Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Fraser Coast Regional Council, continues to thrive, picking up awards along the way’. ‘In 2011, the model was even showcased at an international conference as “the key to successful holistic weed management on Fraser Island” by Dr Alison Shapcott from the University of the Sunshine Coast—where it attracted considerable attention’.
Looking forward, although the environmental problems continue to grow, so does the strength of the partnership, with 15 partners now part of the group. FINIA’s success to date is a great example of how a supported and engaged groups of stakeholders can work together to genuinely address long-term land management issues. And as for what the next decade may hold? Well aside from more work with weeds and pests, education and awareness, FINIA is currently planning a BioBlitz to be held in 2017.
FINIA would like to formally acknowledge the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme, the University of the Sunshine Coast (catering sponsors) and Kingfisher Bay Resort Group for their support of our tenth anniversary event.
Chris Stone, BMRG
On 12 August, more than 100 delegates attended the 6th Biennial Fraser Island Conference at the University of the Sunshine Coast at Sippy Downs. It was the best attended Fraser Island (K’Gari) Conference yet, and with the weather for the Conference being most pleasant, as was the venue and the catering, it was also judged to have been the best Fraser Island Conference so far.
The Conference provided a wealth of information about the world’s greatest sand island and what is being discovered to help it to be better appreciated and better understood. As the speakers made clear, the island is much more than sand; it is affected by and affects the marine environment surrounding it. A summary of the Conference, including details of all speakers, can be found on the FINIA blog.
The 7th Biennial Fraser Island Conference is also already in the works, with the theme ‘Time, Tide and Tourism’. The plan is to hold the Conference to coincide with the Brisbane Exhibition holiday on Wednesday 16 August 2017; however, more information will be made available closer to the date.
John Sinclair, AO
Thinking about getting involved on Fraser Island, then why not join one of our organised trips with either FIDO or CVA? To get a feel of what you might experience during a week long volunteer trip check out John Sinclair’s Diary from his recent trip to Fraser Island. (more…)
The latest news on Fraser Island research will be discussed at a Conference in Brisbane on 8th August to help advance the island’s case for its wider use as a natural laboratory and bring with them a global perspective.
Join FIDO for a week of weeding!
Sunday 15 September to Saturday 21 September.
Click Here to see a gallery from a recent FIDO Bush Regeneration trip.
This project is coordinated by Fraser Island Defenders Organisation (FIDO). It is run on a not for profit basis. All tools, accommodation, food, transport (to and from Brisbane or Sunshine Coast in 4WD vehicle) and island tours are provided.
Four Wheel Drive Queensland held their annual Fraser Island Clean-up event on Sunday 2nd June, picking up marine debris along the length of the eastern beach between Dilli Village and Orchid Beach. This year marked the twelfth event held on Fraser Island, thanks to the hard work and organisation of Four Wheel Drive Queensland with the support of QPWS. (more…)