PURCHASE OF LOT 257 SILVER ASH ROAD, COW BAY IN THE DAINTREE LOWLAND RAINFOREST
Action: Purchase Lot 257 Silver Ash Road at Cow Bay (RP 738999)
Area: 1.09 hectares
Location: Cow Bay, Daintree Lowland Rainforest, Queensland
Vegetation type: Lowland tropical rainforest classified as Simple-complex mesophyll to notophyll vine forest on moderate to poorly-drained alluvial plains of moderate fertility
Regional Ecosystem 7.3.10a is listed as “Of Concern” under the Vegetation Management Act 1999.
Endangered Ecological Community: Lowland tropical rainforest of the Wet Tropics ecological community is listed in the Endangered Category under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Threatened Species: Endangered Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii), Macleay's Fig-Parrots (Cyclopsitta diophthalma macleayana), Greys Walnut (Endiandra grayi), Noah’s Walnut (Endiandra microneura), Daintree Gardenia (Randia audasii)
Lot 257 Silver Ash Road in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest
We purchased Lot 257 Silver Ash Road in Cow Bay to fulfill our vision for the conservation of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. This requires the buyback of all undeveloped freehold properties in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. Not only do we want to see no further development, but we also want the negative impacts of the rural residential subdivision to be reversed. Lot 257 Silver Ash Road is located between two isolated areas of the Daintree National Park and the purchase of this property has linked them up.
In 1982 the Queensland government approved a 1,136-lot rural residential subdivision in the Daintree. This resulted in two-thirds of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest being excluded from protection in the Daintree National Park and Wet Tropics World Heritage Area that was declared in 1988. Lot 257 Silver Ash Road is one of these properties.
Beautiful rainforest and creek on Lot 257
Before we make a commitment to purchase a Daintree Rainforest property for conservation we have ecologists undertake a comprehensive survey to confirm the conservation values.
A vegetation survey undertaken on the 16th of November 2021 identified 258 native plant species including three plant species listed on the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992. There are also 4 endemic plant species that have their distribution largely restricted to the Daintree lowlands.
Other plants of importance on Lot 257 include the Hope’s Cycad (Lepidozamia hopei). This species of Cycad is the largest growing in the world and was once utilised by Aboriginal people as a food source. It has evolutionary links dating back some 200 million years and along with other ancient species form some of the reasons why the Wet Tropics World Heritage area has been afforded protection within the National Parks estate.
Evidence of the Southern Cassowary using the property was confirmed by dung. Cassowaries are regularly sighted in the adjoining Daintree National Park and on nearby properties.
One of many large trees on Lot 257 Silver Ash Road
Endangered Ecological Community
The Daintree Lowland Rainforest itself has now been identified as part of an Endangered Ecological Community. In November 2021 the Australian Government listed the lowland tropical rainforest of the Wet Tropics ecological community, in the Endangered Category under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The listing is effective as of Friday 26 November 2021 and includes the Wet Tropics of North Queensland, from near Ingham (just south of the Cardwell Range) in the south to north around Cape Tribulation. While now listed as Endangered the Daintree Lowland Rainforest is still not fully protected. The freehold properties in the Daintree lowland remain at risk from rural residential development.
Lot 257 Silver Ash Road adjoins the Daintree National Park
The Daintree Lowland Rainforest is one of the oldest rainforests on Earth and provides a refuge for wildlife and ancient flowering plants. It holds exceptionally high biodiversity and conservation value and is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest remaining in Australia. With almost 200 undeveloped properties remaining in private ownership, the future of the Daintree is yet to be determined. Will it be increased development and urbanisation, or will it be the winding back of the disastrous subdivision to save the Daintree Rainforest.
Spur Mahogany (Dysoxylum pettigrewianum)
THANK YOU TO HALFCUT
This project to purchase and protect land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest is a partnership involving the Rainforest 4 Foundation, Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, and fellow non-profit HalfCut.
Thanks to HalfCut and their wonderful supporters. The fundraising success of HalfCut has enabled us to purchase multiple properties in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
Background information on the Daintree Lowland Rainforest
The Daintree Lowland Rainforest is one of the oldest rainforests on Earth having survived undisturbed for over 120 million years. It holds exceptionally high biodiversity and conservation value and is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest remaining in Australia.
Rainforests once covered much of eastern Australia, however, as conditions became drier the rainforest contracted and today the Daintree provides a refuge for many unique species. The Bennett’s Tree-kangaroo, Musky Rat-kangaroo, and the Southern Cassowary can be found here, as well a number of endemic plant species that have retained the same primitive characteristics of their ancestors. The flora of the Daintree contains an almost complete record of the evolution of plant life on Earth, including extremely ancient flowering plant families found nowhere else.
In 1982 the Queensland government approved an 1,136-lot rural residential subdivision in the Daintree. This resulted in two-thirds of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest being excluded from protection in the Daintree National Park and Wet Tropics World Heritage Area that was declared in 1988. The development that followed has resulted in fragmentation of the rainforest with the construction of roads and the building of hundreds of houses. Settlement has introduced exotic plants that have become weeds and domestic dogs and traffic that are a threat to wildlife. Because the land in question is in private ownership, the only option to resolve the issue has been the purchase and protection of additional lands to expand Daintree National Park.
Our vision for the Daintree Lowland Rainforest is to buy back land to remove the threat of further development and to address the impact of past development while supporting the Traditional Owners, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people in caring for country.
While we purchase land at risk of development for housing we also purchase other freehold properties without development approvals to reverse the impacts of the disastrous subdivision by closing and revegetating obsolete roads.
Since 1992 non-profit organisations have purchased seventy-five properties for conservation.
Threat to Wildlife, Climate People and Planet
Daintree Rainforest is regarded as an iconic national treasure for its unique evolutionary history and tremendous conservation value. A number of rare and endangered species are found within Daintree National Park, including the Southern Cassowary, large flightless birds that in Australia are found only in the wet tropical rainforests of Queensland. Southern Cassowaries consume over 150 different fruits and play a vital role as seed dispersers in the rainforest. Due to the destruction and fragmentation of their rainforest habitats, these large charismatic birds are classified as Vulnerable to extinction.
More than 430 other bird species have also been recorded in Daintree National Park, including rare or range-restricted species like the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher and the Lesser Sooty Owl, making the Daintree a Globally Important Bird Area. Many unique marsupials, reptiles, and amphibians are also found in the Daintree Rainforest including the Bennett’s Tree-kangaroo, Musky Rat-kangaroo, Spotted-tailed Quoll, and Boyd’s Forest Dragon.
A risk to the Daintree comes from development for housing and fragmentation of the rainforest, which jeopardises the integrity of the ecosystem with increased human traffic and the introduction of exotic species. Expanding settlement results in the spread of exotic plants that become weeds and stress to wildlife from human traffic and introduced dogs. Further buyback of land for conservation is required urgently as there are calls for an upgrade to Cape Tribulation Road, to build a bridge over the Daintree River, and to provide a reticulated electricity supply that would all lead to further development.
The purchase of additional properties will prevent further development to these sensitive areas while protecting and restoring critical habitat for wildlife. It will also allow for winding back past development through the closing of roads and the revegetation of land as habitat for Threatened species.