CAPE York Peninsula Landcare and the Tropical Savannas CRC have
produced a new guide for land managers to improve the knowledge of
biodiversity of this unique region. The booklet was written
specifically for managers of pastoral properties, but the
information has wider applications.
The idea for the project came from one of its authors, Wendy
Seabrook, who had seen the popularity of the weed guide for the
region. Wendy was insistent that she did not want a guide that was
full of negatives. “So much of what you read about
special animals is about the threats they face and the things you
must not do,” she said. “We wanted a guide that would
give land managers positive messages about the special values on
their properties, and the good things they can do for
Co-author Gay Crowley reiterated that the pair wanted to produce
a guide that highlighted good land management practices on the
peninsula. “Many of the plants and animals have persisted in
the area because managers have had a healthy approach to land
management,” she said.
The guide contains profiles of 21 species that are found in the
different habitats on the peninsula, and have a wide range of
habitat requirements. It includes a range of threatened and secure
plants and animal species. Each species profile is on a separate
card, collected into a ring binder that is small enough to live in
the glove box of the station ute. Durable, waterproof materials
were used so that the booklet can be taken into the field.
Most of the species are widespread, and are ecologically important
across the peninsula. Pasture grasses such as black spear and plume
sorghum are important for both cattle grazing and supporting native
species. Information in the guide about managing them sustainably
will benefit both pastoral production and biodiversity
“Some of the other species are rare, and will only be
found on a few properties,” explained Gay, “but they
share their habitat needs with a wide range of species.
“So the information on each card is useful for good
management on all properties,” said Gay.
As well as the information on individual species, the Positive
approach to care of Cape York introduction explains the principles
of best practice land management in simple terms. “We know if
you look after your native pastures,” said Gay, “you
are also looking after most of the requirements of native wildlife.
So we included information on wet season spelling, moderate pasture
utilisation rates, maintaining ground cover, and managing
vegetation thickening, fire, weeds and feral animals.”
Conserving the entire suite of biodiversity on Cape York
Peninsula however, means more than just sustainable grazing. The
booklet explains that individual species have quite specific needs,
such as a diverse shrub cover or tree hollows. Many of these needs
can be accommodated on a productive pastoral property, as there are
only a couple of species that cannot persist in a moderately grazed
landscape—for example, the crimson finch. For such species to
survive, it is important that grazing is excluded from some areas
of the peninsula.
The booklet’s overall message is that, with a bit of care,
conservation and pastoralism can coexist. “The presence of
rare or threatened species flags a property that is well
managed,” says Gay. “Land managers no longer need to
consider threatened species as a threat to their
Healthy Country Indicator Species for Cape York Peninsula
by Gabriel Crowley, Taegan Calnan, Wendy Seabrook and Riikka
Hokkanen (2007), published by the Tropical Savannas CRC, is
available from Cape York Peninsula Landcare
Program, Cooktown, and TS–CRC.
Contact the TS–CRC and Cape York Landcare for
TS–CRC: Peter Jacklyn
Tel: 08 8946 6285
Cape York Landcare: Sandy Lloyd,
Tel: 07 4069 5046 Fax: 07 4069 6896
Hardcopies free to Cape York residents; $10 for others.
Download the profiles at:
Download the entire booklet:
A profile from the Cape York Peninsula booklet: the first page
shows a picture of the animal, in this case a sugar glider.
It is followed by a second page with information on the species,
including its range.