Action: Revegetation through planting and maintenance of 11,900 rainforest trees with corporate partner Dairy Farmers, plus maintenance of 17,000 trees already planted.

Area: 11 hectares

Location: Millaa Millaa, Far North Queensland

Vegetation type: Regional Ecosystem 7.8.4 - high altitude cloud forest on basalt

Threatened Species: Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo, spectacled flying fox, spotted-tail quoll, southern cassowary, lemuroid ringtail possum, green ringtail possum, Herbert river ringtail possum, northern pygmy possum, and golden bowerbird

Introduction

The rainforests of the Atherton Tablelands provide habitat for iconic and threatened species including the Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo and the endangered southern cassowary

Historic clearing in the region has resulted in the rainforest being broken up into small fragments. This creates challenges for wildlife attempting to travel across the landscape. 

Climate-sensitive species like the Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo and the lemuroid and green ringtail possums are also restricted to the cooler parts of the Atherton Tablelands and other higher areas of the Wet Tropics. With fragmentation reducing the functional connectivity of cool-climate habitat areas, it is feared a range of species will be at substantial risk from a warming climate. Expanding this important habitat is essential to supporting their long-term survival. 

The solution

We are restoring areas of rainforest by planting trees and strategically creating wildlife corridors in Far North Queensland. On the Atherton Tablelands, we're partnering with Dairy Farmers to plant 11,900 trees by June 2025. 

This will revegetate 3.5 hectares of land within a nature refuge that is strategically located between the Malaan National Park and Herberton Range National Park, bringing the total number of trees planted in this refuge to 28,900 and helping to complete a wildlife corridor between the two national parks. Besides its strategic corridor value, this project also helps buffer the World Heritage Area which directly abuts the block. 

A wide variety of native tree species, including lemon aspen (Acronychia acidula) white ash (Alphitonia petrei), and the blue quandong (Elaeocarpus grandis) - a favourite food source for the endangered southern cassowary - will be planted. These trees will enhance rainforest connectivity and buffer surrounding World Heritage-listed Areas, resulting in healthier ecosystems, greater habitat for threatened and endemic cool-climate species and safer passage for wildlife traversing the landscape.

A further 17,000 trees already planted in the nature refuge will continue to be maintained with the help of contractors and our project partners. 

Management and implementation 

Gondwana Rainforest Trust will be responsible for managing the project through the Rainforest Rangers program, with the support of our project partners Dairy Farmers and South Endeavor Trust.

Project deliverables

The project will:

  • Establish 3.5 hectares of rainforest by planting 11,900 rainforest trees
  • Hold community events for volunteers and corporate sponsors to help plant trees
  • Maintain a further 17,000 trees for up to three years
  • Document the project with photographs and provide reports on project outcomes

Green ringtail possum

Timeline

The project started in April 2023 with site preparation (the removal of weeds, and drilling holes with an auger) and a community tree planting event involving volunteers planting the first 1,000 trees. A second planting was held over two days in February 2024. A third tree-planting event is planned for April 2024. 

The trees are being obtained from local community non-profit nurseries that specialise in growing local rainforest plants. All trees will be maintained at a very high standard and will be closely monitored and managed. Contractors will be engaged to prepare the site and to maintain the trees for 3 years. This will involve eliminating competition by removing weeds that germinate on the site.

Maintenance will be ongoing throughout 2023, 2024, and 2025. 

Background

The Atherton Tableland is a fertile plateau located in Far North Queensland. Deep volcanic soils, warm temperatures, reliable rainfall, and irrigation schemes have combined to make agriculture the main economic activity of the Atherton Tablelands. Dairy cattle graze the high rainfall south-eastern region around Millaa Millaa and Malanda. 

Old-growth tropical rainforest at Millaa Millaa

Partners

Our corporate partner for this project is Dairy Farmers, which is investing $100,000 to support this important reforestation initiative in the Atherton Tablelands, the only tropical dairy farming region in Australia. Dairy Farmers is owned by Bega Group and the brand honours its over 120-year long farming history and its legacy of supporting each other and the community by bringing a wide range of high-quality dairy products into the hearts and homes of all Australians. 

Our project partner is South Endeavour Trust, a successful registered non-profit organisation that acquires and manages land for conservation. We successfully partnered with them in 2021 for the acquisition of Oakey Scrub near Cooktown. They own and manage the Misty Mountain Nature Refuge, created through the acquisition of three other properties in the past decade including Cheelonga Cloud Forest, which was acquired with our assistance in 2023. We have also collaborated to acquire the Maalan Cloud Forest and Oakey Scrub properties. 

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