Protecting Beach Scrub
This project aims to enhance and monitor the health of coastal semi-evergreen vine thicket sites around Townsville, Magnetic Island, Ayr, Cape Upstart, and Bowen (“Beach Scrub”: Regional Ecosystem 7.2.2 and 11.2.3, EPBC listed as Critically Endangered and Endangered resp).
It builds on a 2016-2018 project that prioritised sites on site significance, ecological community resilience, and threat intensity. The project targets 15 of the 16 original project sites, and adds four in 2018 aiming to expand to Palm Island in 2019.
Community groups and Traditional Owner groups will remove weeds to encourage native plant recruitment, install wildlife friendly exclusion fencing, and revegetate illegally cleared vegetation in Bowen. Sites were assessed with “BioCondition” for baseline health data and will be re-assessed at the end of the project in 2023, aiming for a 5% improvement.
Yearly progress will be monitored using a rapid assessment tool that will be developed in the first year.
Beach Scrub Project Sites
Beach Scrub Rapid Assessment Case Study
Rapid Assessment Method
Needing a tool to quickly determine a baseline state of threats on each patch of beach scrub, and the effectiveness of management intervention, NQ Dry Tropics commissioned an ecologist to develop the Rapid Assessment Method.
The Rapid Assessment Method was developed at the end of 2018 and field-tested at the start of the Protecting Beach Scrub Communities project during the first quarter of 2019.
The method consists of surveying a transect through an area of beach scrub. The beginning and end of threats along the transect are marked with a GPS, effectively breaking the transect into segments scored for threat type. The percentage of the sections with, and without, threats provides the condition score for the area. A smartphone or tablet can be used to collect most of the field data.
The rapid assessment technique was designed as a fast way to appraise threats on a representative part of the management area, and is complementary to long term ecosystem health appraisal (BioCondition, five-year interval), and yearly photo-point monitoring. It provides an excellent opportunity to discover previously unknown management issues, and a great forum to discuss management with contractors and on-ground staff. Some adjustments may be necessary from the original design, such as weaving the transect in and out of the ecosystem of choice and adjacent vegetation if both are included in the actively managed area.
Voluntouring is a form of tourism where volunteers get to experience unique parts of Australia at the same time making a contribution to the conservation of endangered beach scrub.