Regionally-extinct for 60 years, the Eastern Quoll returns to Victoria

Welcome back to the Eastern Quoll

In July 2002 our friends at the Odonata Foundation celebrated a very special moment – the reintroduction to Victoria of the Eastern Quoll.

Classified as regionally extinct for almost 60 years, the “fiercely cute” quoll was wiped out due to predation by cats and foxes. It was also targeted by farmers as a predator of domestic chickens.

A captive breeding and research program has been underway at Odonata’s core sanctuary, Mt Rothwell, since 2002 but this is the first time the quoll has been released back into the wild.

The release site was Odanata’s 1,000-hectare Tiverton property in western Victoria, where a large group of scientists and observers were there to witness the moment, which was filmed and published by the ABC in this great news story.  

Photo with thanks to Pursuedbybe via Flickr.

A new SEASON for our threatened species

Carbon Landscapes co-founder Dr Steve Enticott (front) with Odanata team members in the field.

World-first initiative engages private landholders in species protection

In our day-to-day work, we’re fortunate to meet lots of positive and inspiring leaders, many of whom share similar ideas on where we think Australia can make the greatest gains in regenerating landscapes and protecting our native plants and animals.

Among them is Dr Steve Enticott, a well-known and regarded business coach and accountant who co-founded Carbon Landscapes to achieve lasting change through private land conservation.

Carbon Landscapes’ focuses on designing and implementing projects that achieve real impact on the ground, such as improving river health, establishing strategic wildlife corridors and creating refugia for wildlife.

World-first initiative

In June 2022, Steve and his team contributed to what is believed to be a world-first initiative – the South-East Australia Sanctuary Operations Network, or SEASON, launched by Odonata Mt Rothwell..

SEASON has ambitious plans to establish 30 privately-owned and funded wildlife sanctuaries to save 30 species by 2030. This will be achieved by bringing scientists, landholders, farmers and entrepreneurs together throughout Victoria.

The team is working closely with respected, environmental not-for-profit organisation Odonata Mt Rothwell, a hugely successful private wildlife sanctuary 50k from Melbourne. Odonata will coordinate the SEASON program, funded by World Wide Fund for Nature Australia, with Carbon Landscapes involved in onboarding and mentoring landholders.

SEASON will not only focus on protecting threatened species, such as the Eastern Quoll, Eastern Barred Bandicoot, Southern Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, Bush Stone Curlew, Eastern Bettong and Southern Brown Bandicoot, but on unlocking natural capital opportunities around eco-tourism, carbon offsets and regenerative land use.

The concept has already attracted interest from owners of more than 70 parcels of land in Victoria. Read more about SEASON HERE.

63 species to save by 2041

These species need our help – now

Researchers from the Charles Darwin University and the University of Canberra have identified 63 Australian birds, mammals, fish, frogs and reptiles most likely to become extinct in the next 20 years.

With a strong sense of irony, the research team begin their Conversation article, which is linked to their Biological Conservation paper, with the line, “It feels a bit strange to publish a paper that we want to be wrong”.

 

From a sense of amusement to despair, the authors say that the only way to address Australia’s  “abysmal” extinction record is to ensure we have an accurate record of the species most at risk. They studied birds and mammals first, followed by fish, reptiles and frogs.
 
Sadly, there are no recent confirmed records of the continued existence of five reptile, four bird, four frog, two mammal and one fish species.
 
There’s a lot to digest and accept in this report, which draws on the expertise of ecologists and environmental organisations around Australia to make its conclusions.  

Backing private conservation action

The Rendere Trust supports the  establishment of new association for land covenantors

Private land conservation is increasingly being recognised as the missing link in connecting (or reconnecting) habitats, landscapes and communities.

In Victoria, for example, the State Government has plans to restore 200,000 hectares of private land for conservation and in 2022 directed $31m towards organisations such as Trust for Nature to implement a BushBank scheme.

Victorians have, in fact, been covenanting land since the 1970s, with around 1,500 landholders already protecting their land in-perpetuity.

In 2021, the Rendere Trust decided to support these active protectors by funding the establishment of a new association dedicated to supporting landholders and growing the number of covenantors in Victoria.

Launched early in 2022 Land Covenantors Victoria’s (LCV) agenda focuses on raising awareness of the value of private land conservation, expanding the area of land managed under perpetual agreements, increasing the allocation of resources directed to conservation and lobbying local, state and federal government agencies for better tax and other incentives – settings that it hopes will encourage others to follow this path.

If you’re considering placing a covenant on your land (or know someone who is), please sign up as an LCV member or ‘friend’ and get behind the private land conservation movement.

Saving our High Country eucalypts

Standing by our iconic gumtrees

Anyone visiting the Victorian High Country cannot fail to be inspired by the beauty and majesty of the Snow Gum, with its twisted branches, pale green to cream-coloured bark and spreading habit.

This iconic species (Eucalyptus pauciflora) may be the subject of many tourist photos, but few visitors realise that the eucalypt, along with the Alpine Ash, is now under extreme stress due to a number of climate-related threats; the most devastating of which was the 2019/20 bushfires.

Friends of the Earth Melbourne (FOE) says five significant fire events over the past 20 years hasn’t given the trees enough time to regenerate and scientists are now asking if we are witnessing a ‘community collapse’ of both.

Being based in the Gippsland region of Victoria, we share these concerns and thank FOE for raising the alarm bells and taking action by engaging the community in efforts to map the snow gums in the northern end of the Dargo High Plains, as detailed in this excellent ABC News story.

The Alpine Ash is also facing widespread loss due to the hotter, drier conditions generated by climate change, with Greening Australia and Minderoo Foundation now involved in a program to find ’super seeds’ suited to a changing climate will help prevent widespread loss of Australia’s Alpine Ash forests before it is too late.

Action needed now

In August 2022, the ABC published an update on this story, presenting the issue as even more urgent today. Read the story here.

Protecting a South Gippsland icon, the Strzelecki koala.

Saving a much beloved neighbour

The Strzelecki Koala is Victoria’s only endemic koala species and a Gippsland local who we’re encouraging back onto Country via our EcoGipps venture.

According to Friends of the Earth Melbourne (FoEM) having healthy populations of the Strzelecki Koala is not only important for the region, but for the species as a whole, as genetic diversity is critical.

FoEM is leading efforts to protect the koala and safeguard populations more generally. It has developed a dynamic map of populations and is running a range of innovative programs to raise awareness and encourage citizen science (learn more here). 

Meanwhile in Alberton West

The Rendere Trust is also taking an active interest and role in protecting koala habitat by supporting efforts to save the Alberton West State Forest (near Yarram) from logging by VicForests.

The remnant bushland is home to many threatened species including the Strzelecki Koala, Powerful Owl, Greater Gliders and the Lace Monitor.

Here again, FoEM is leading the charge by calling for greater change against Vicforest and forestry industry standards.