The Escarpment: An essential South East Queensland wildlife corridor

This 500 acres doesn’t just contain a few trees and the occasional bird, it’s a significant wildlife corridor for an amazing array of animals.

The property, currently facing a proposed out-of-place development application to build a high-volume entertainment park, falls within part of a state bioregional corridor. It adjoins the Tamborine Mountain National Park and borders Guanaba Creek – a significant water catchment resource.

Apart from an area at the front of the property, the 500 acres is densely forested with a range of flora (some of which is recognised under state / federal environment protection legislation).

The property provides a stepping-stone for reserves within the Gold Coast City Council and Scenic Rim Regional Council regions. It also provides habitat connections to National Park and properties that adjoin the 500 acres.

Forest escarpment of Guanaba

The residents of these properties have been carefully re-planting indigenous and native flora species to rehabilitate previous farmlands. This commitment by local residents has helped further extend the corridors and provide more habitat for wildlife to rest, breed and travel to other areas.

Significant fauna species, some of which are threatened, endangered or vulnerable (under the Federal Government’s EPBC Act* and Queensland’s NCA**) heavily depend on the wildlife connections for their survival. These species include the beautiful and shy Albert’s Lyrebird and the Spotted-Tail Quoll.

Dedicated wildlife corridors provide animals with much-needed breeding habitat, which helps increase animal populations. Habitat reduction can lead to a reduction in species numbers. This reduces and weakens the gene pool, affecting genetic diversity and the ability for animals to fight disease (the Tasmanian Devil has faced such a problem).

Alberts Lyrebird in Guanaba

The size of the proposed entertainment park and the activities within it will cause significant habitat fragmentation. If allowed to happen, the development will cut off wildlife corridors to other areas within the Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Protection Precinct and South East Queensland.

Habitat upheaval will also risk the influx of feral animals to the property, putting wildlife at further risk.

We all have a duty of care to protect this area from out-of-place developments that put at great risk future generations of significant wildlife species.

The wildlife relies on us to speak for them; so let’s stand up and be counted for their sake.

More on the wildlife of Guanaba’s Tamborine Mountain Escarpment Protection Precinct:

Frogs of Guanaba

Koalas of Guanaba

Richmond Birdwing Butterfly

Albert’s Lyrebird

Precious Guanaba flora and fauna

See our Save Guanaba Facebook page

Resources:

*EPBC Act: The Act | About the EPBC Act

**NCA: The Act | Threatened species info: EHP Queensland

IUCN Red List

The IUCN: “Assessing the conservation status of species, subspecies, varieties, and even selected subpopulations on a global scale to highlight species threatened with extinction, and therefore promote their conservation.”

Richmond birdwing butterfly – Guanaba’s living painting

The Richmond birdwing butterfly – one of Australia’s largest subtropical butterflies – is listed as vulnerable under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992.

And the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection mark the butterfly as a “critical priority”.

Richmond birdwing butterfly

Male Richmond birdwing butterfly

This living painting, within Tamborine Mountain’s Escarpment Protection Precinct, has a wingspan of 16cm (for the male) and 13cm (for the female).

Where does the Richmond birdwing butterfly live?

The habitat of the Richmond birdwing butterfly is in subtropical rainforest.

It’s found on Tamborine Mountain – one of the few areas remaining after fragmentation of its habitat. (Distribution in this region goes from Ormeau and Mount Tamborine to Wardell in northern NSW.)

Saving the Richmond birdwing butterfly

The Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network has been linking existing habitats through the replanting of the Richmond birdwing butterfly’s food plant P. Praevenosa.

They’re working at removing the Dutchman’s pipe (a relative of the butterfly larvae’s food plant that confuses the butterfly and kills its larvae).

They’re also keeping an eye on butterfly numbers and distribution through a mapping process.

Great work RBCN!

Find out more about RBCN …

Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network
The Richmond Birdwing Conservation Network (RBCN) is devoted to the conservation of this beautiful butterfly and the host vines and habitat the butterfly requires for survival.

Database of Richmond Birdwing Butterfly sightings

Find out more about the Richmond birdwing butterfly …

Department of Environment and Heritage Protection

Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland

More insect pictures at Save Guanaba’s Facebook page

Tamborine Mountain’s green heart – once it’s gone, it’s gone for good

Why does the community oppose this specific development on Tamborine Mountain? Because it’s a high-impact entertainment business proposed to be developed in an area not zoned for entertainment, but zoned “escarpment protection”, which recognises the environmental significance of the area.

This is a major green zone of the Mountain; it contains at-risk flora and fauna, it acts as a major corridor to other green areas and it connects major South East Queensland water catchments (such as the Coomera River). It’s environmental significance has been recognised by Council’s current planning scheme, which allows only for low-level development (not an entertainment business and not a “housing estate”).

And yes, the community opposes the proposed development, because it sets an entertainment business in amongst quiet rural / residential properties, which, again, is not what is promised under the current planning scheme.

The planning scheme has been developed over many years by people who know the Scenic Rim region, its cultural values and the importance of retaining areas of environmental significance. The development application has provided no clear reason for why the 500 acres in question should be changed to something incompatible with the planning scheme and the area.

Let’s be clear, despite some of the claims cast, this is not a mountain bike riding business; it’s a multi-offering entertainment business. High volumes of people will move through this property on a daily basis. It includes a range of mountain bike riding activities throughout the property (including nighttime rides), 4WD shuttles taking mountain bike riders to the top of the property every 10 to 20 minutes, camping for 300 people per day and night, zip lines, suspension bridges, restaurant, car parks for more than 100 cars, events and more.

This is a very sensitive part of Tamborine Mountain and one of the few remaining green legacies of the Scenic Rim / Gold Coast region. That’s why we’re fighting for it; that’s why it’s important to us.

The Save Guanaba Facebook page is a place to communicate all the reasons for protecting this very important area.

The community’s read the developer’s side of the story on their Facebook page and website. We’ve also read the comments of people who support the development on the Save Guanaba Facebook page and have informed ourselves of the development via the application documentation. The community has its own perspective on the development and believe we have the right to voice this perspective in the spaces we’ve created to do so.

A small story: Some have claimed residents near the proposed development of clearing their land to build their homes. Many of the people most affected by the proposed development purchased old farm land and are now revegetating it to extend the 500 acres of well-vegetated escarpment protection into their own properties to regenerate the area and provide more habitat for the local fauna. We’re passionate about this place, and want to protect it for now and for the future. Why? Because it’s precious. And once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.

See the Save Guanaba Facebook page for more.

When soils ain’t soils in Guanaba

When parts of your neighbour’s backyard disappear downhill after a major rain event, you realise good soil structure is a critical Tamborine Mountain issue.

The Tamborine Mountain’s escarpment protection precinct relies heavily on its vegetation to ensure soil integrity remains in check, especially during wet weather, and especially during the storm events with which this region is so familiar.

The eastern escarpment precinct has seen significant landslides occur over time (and in very recent history), which have permanently changed the landscape.

One of the most notable eastern escarpment landslides occurred in the famous 1974 floods, where part of the escarpment slipped, taking with it soil, vegetation, rock and more. The instability of the eastern escarpment is well known to experts and to local residents, who often sight regular landslips after rain. There are a number of graphic pictures taken after the 1974 floods that show what happens when soil structure gives way in the escarpment.

Tamborine Mountain Landslip 1974 eastern escarpment

1974 – this major landslide occurred on the land around Kaiser Road.

Recent landslides

People who live next to the 500 acres of escarpment protection precinct have recorded landslides in very recent times (such as after the floods in January 2013). But, it doesn’t take this kind of major rain event to bring on landslides (they can occur after Summer rains synonymous with the Scenic Rim region).

Landslide after Cyclone Oswald where a whole bank gave way

Landslide after Cyclone Oswald – a whole bank gave way.

Landslide after Cyclone Oswald

Another perspective of the landslide.

Preventing landslides

It’s more effective to try and mitigate the risk of landslides by retaining essential vegetation.

“Prevention of landslides is far preferable to subsequent rehabilitation, which is expensive, long term and possibly only partly effective.”

“No further clearing should occur on susceptible locations at risk.”

Ref. Warwick Willmott; Rocks and landscapes of the Gold Coast Hinterland: Expanded third edition; Geological Society of Australia, Queensland Division; 2010.

Potential risks with certain developments on the Tamborine Mountain escarpment protection precinct

1. Any geotechnical report providing information on proposed developments within the escarpment precinct should identify critical slopes, faults, colluvium, slip zones etc.

2. Proposed developments within the escarpment must take into account the 4 rainforest gullies and water catchments – Guanaba Creek and Coomera River – and provide a solution to ensure catchments won’t be negatively impacted on.

3. Proposed developments must consider surface water runoff treatments, which may lead to the concentration of water and, potentially, initiate erosion, super saturation and slips.

4. Proposed developments should outline impacts of vegetation clearing, construction and sediment travel and surface water runoff downstream into National Park, Guanaba Creek and the Coomera River.

5. And, proposed developments should fit within the Tamborine Mountain escarpment protection precinct.

Tamborine Mountain’s escarpment is precious, delicate and in need of protection. Soil structure in the escarpment is fragile (just ask the people who live there). Out-of-place developments, that rely on the clearing vegetation to enable the frequent movement of human traffic (the likes of which the 500 acres of escarpment has never seen) will threaten soil integrity.

And when soil integrity is under stress, there is an increased risk of soil runoff, which affects the region’s water catchments and can increase the risk of landslides.

It’s vital we fight to protect the Tamborine Mountain escarpment protection precinct against developments unsuited to its very specific and special characteristics.

For more images of the 500 acres in question, see our Save Guanaba Facebook page.

(Note: Many residents near the 500 acres have spent years planting indigenous and native flora to rehabilitate their properties – formerly old farms – and extend the rich vegetation within the 500 acres into their own backyards.)