A botanical survey of the banks of Enoggera Creek at The Gap, in Brisbane’s north-west, has found the area meets the criteria for critically endangered Lowland Rainforest of Subtropical Australia.
The survey involved botanist Rob Price and volunteers identifying plant species at six rehabilitation sites on creek banks between Enoggera Reservoir and Walton Bridge Reserve.
They found roughly ten hectares of bushland along the creek met the diagnostic criteria for rainforest of national significance.
Project coordinator, John Abbott, said the survey was initiated by local catchment group, Save Our Waterways Now (SOWN), who were surprised at the findings.
‘We knew this area was endangered under state laws after the Queensland Herbarium listed it as a matter of state environmental significance,’ Mr Abbott said.
‘We now know The Gap Rainforest has national environmental significance.’
SOWN compiled the results into a Statement of Significance which the group will use as leverage to protect these areas of rainforest.
Mr Abbott said some trees in the survey area predated European colonisation.
‘Numerous trees here are several hundreds of years old. One Brush Box was estimated to be 370 years old. Many Weeping Lilly Pilly were mature trees prior to British colonisation.’
Threatened species included the vulnerable Macadamia Nut and two critically endangered species; Native Guava and Scrub Turpentine.
The survey found several rainforest species from ancient plant lineages which evolved prior to extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Why should I care?
There is hardly any of this type of rainforest left in Australia.
According to Lowland Rainforest of Subtropical Australia listing advice to the federal government, prior to European occupation, most of the north coast of NSW and southern Queensland was forested.
The advice says 92 per cent of lowland rainforest in Australia has been cleared since European occupation.
Most lowland rainforest in Queensland has been cleared for farming and reduced from roughly 9000 hectares to 3000 hectares today. There are similar statistics for NSW.
The remaining large stands of lowland rainforest are in National Parks in the Border and Nightcap ranges, Springbrook, Lamington, Kondalilla and the Glass House Mountains.
The rest is scattered remnants, many only a few hectares, such as The Gap Rainforest which are particularly vulnerable due to their small size.
These remnants provide habitat for native flora and fauna such as the Wompoo fruit-dove and the ‘near threatened’ Richmond birdwing butterfly vine, both found in The Gap Rainforest.
Volunteer groups like SOWN work to protect areas like The Gap Rainforest from threats of urban development, weeds, domestic animals, industrial pollution and sediment runoff.
SOWN volunteers plant The Gap Rainforest with native species grown in their own nursery of plants endemic to the area.
Mr Abbott said the next step for SOWN was to work with the local community and all levels of government to preserve The Gap Rainforest.
‘This area is precious. It’s beautiful. Many people in The Gap don’t realise it’s there unless they walk along the creek,’ he said.
‘There is not much of this type of ecological community left, due to urban development along rivers and creeks. We’ve got to protect what we’ve got.
‘It’s an important reservoir of genetic diversity.’
SOWN representatives have met with The Gap Ward Councillor, Stephen Toomey and plan to meet with Member for Cooper Jonty Bush and Member for Ryan, Elizabeth Watson Brown, to discuss government support for preserving The Gap Rainforest.
- For info on Save Our Waterways Now and to read the Statement of Significance, go to SOWN
- For detailed findings of the survey, go to www.inaturalist.org
- For info on the national state of this ecological community, see Lowland Rainforest of Subtropical Australia published by The Department of Energy, Climate Change, The Environment and Water
FEATURED IMAGE AT TOP: Rainforest fringing Enoggera Creek at Walton Bridge Reserve The Gap. PHOTO: Mark Crocker