Farmers become stewards of rare carnivorous marsupials

24 June 2020

The Morrison Government’s Environmental Stewardship Program has helped provide evidence of two rare species of carnivorous marsupials on private farming properties taking part in the long-term conservation support program.

Landowners reported several unusual sightings leading to field surveys identifying the endangered southern Spotted-tailed Quoll and the vulnerable Brush-tailed Phascogale inhabiting areas that have very few records of the species across northern NSW and Queensland.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the program, which is run by the Australian Government  Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, with the monitoring component undertaken by the CSIRO and the Queensland Herbarium, is an example of the importance of the Government’s conservation efforts with private landowners.

“Evidence of these two rare carnivorous marsupials is an encouraging sign and an indication that the Environmental Stewardship program, which is in play in more than 200 properties around NSW and Queensland is making an impact,” she said.

“The program works because it promotes a range of positive land management actions, including strategic livestock grazing, and native plant and wildlife habitat management to benefit local biodiversity.

“Programs which involve cooperation from the public and the Government serve as a reminder that we can all play a part in working towards the conservation and management of nationally threatened ecological communities.”

CSIRO Senior Ecologist Jacqui Stol said the field surveys show the impacts the program has on threatened species and threatened ecological communities, including the critically endangered Box Gum Grassy Woodlands.

“The bush has responded to the stewardship and recent drought breaking rainfalls with huge increases in the diversity of rare and declining native wildflowers and grasses,” Ms Stol said.

“We’re thrilled to see the ecosystem showing these encouraging signs of recovery after what had been a difficult period.”

The population status of both the southern Spotted-tailed Quoll and the Brush-tailed phascogale in southern Queensland is unknown.

“These findings are important because there are very few records in these areas and due to their cryptic nature, both these species can be difficult to detect,” Queensland Department of Environment and Science ecologist Jesse Rowland said.

The Environmental Stewardship Program provides long-term support for private landholders to maintain and improve the condition of Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act listed threatened ecological communities on their property.

Properties are monitored by both organisations with a focus in southern and mid NSW by the CSIRO and in northern NSW and southern Queensland by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, through the Queensland Herbarium.

To find out more about the program, visit https://bit.ly/2VaEKev