Franklin Vale Creek restoration
Works are currently underway to restore Franklin Vale Creek which flows through Hidden Vale. This is a beautiful stretch of creek with shallow creeks and deep pools and some areas of intact riparian vegetation. However, it is overrun with weeds and suffers from high nutrient loads. Work includes weeding, fencing to restrict cattle access, investigation of enviro creek crossings for cattle, and planting to increase habitat and reclaim creek banks.
Ongoing weeding is a part of daily life on our properties. A comprehensive restoration plan has been developed for Hidden Vale and supports prioritisation decisions for weeding works, following current best practice.
The Billabong is a created wetland habitat with a vision of becoming a diverse, healthy, thriving ecosystem for native wildlife. Earthworks around an old dam have created both permanent deep ponds and shallow wading areas that fluctuate naturally with the seasons. The area hosts classes of students from The University of Queensland. Annual birdwatching activities have already noted an increase in diversity of wetland birds since the reconstruction and planting.
A Hidden Vale University of Queensland research student is currently working to develop seed bombs, or seed cookies, that have essential ingredients to help germination and growth of Australian natives. Fernanda is working to restore the old compacted dam wall at the Hidden Vale Billabong. We are hoping to learn information valuable to revegetation and restoration on our properties, that can also be used by other landholders.
WWF- Australia Partnership
A commitment of research and restoration to assist koala populations has led to a partnership with WWF-Australia to undertake corridor plantings to reconnect known koala populations across cleared grazing flats, as well as road fencing and culvert (road underpass) modifications to assist their safe dispersal. See this short video.
A University of Queensland Honours student is currently investigating fox abundance and impact on our properties, including using a sniffer/detection dog (‘Halo’). Karmen is also counting fox tracks, using infrared cameras and analysing fox scats (fancy word for pooh). This is part of a long-term initiative to understand the distribution, abundance and impact of feral species on our properties and develop target-specific control methods.
As part of our ongoing commitment to improving the land and habitat condition on our properties, biocondition monitoring sites are being set up across our nature refuges and cattle properties. Monitoring follows the state government-developed Biocondition Framework and is forming part of a long-term research dataset to adapt and develop sustainable property management guidelines.
Regional ecosystem mapping
Regional Ecosystems (vegetation associations with geology, landform and soils) are the essential element that needs to be understood in order to manage land for both production and conservation outcomes. We are undertaking work with the Queensland Herbarium to map all our current and preclearing Regional Ecosystems at a 1:25000 scale across our nature refuges. This will become the basis for sustainable property management.
Threatened species and their habitat
An important objective is to restore habitat for threatened wildlife species, and assisting those species to eventually recolonise. One species we are focussing on is the Spotted-tailed Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus maculatus), an important native predator in this area. A team of researchers and researchers are investigating quoll distribution (current and historical) and what it would take to re-wild the landscape of quolls, for them to harmoniously share landscapes with humans.
'Halo' - Detection dog