A gift of 452 hectares of remnant vegetation and coastal habitats in one of Queensland’s prime coastal zones will be the next Bush Heritage reserve.
Reedy Creek Reserve coastline.
The new Reedy Creek Reserve lies on the coast adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and on the northern edge of the Deepwater National Park.
Headlands, beach dunes, stunning wetlands and threatened vine forests, as well as loggerhead and green turtle nesting areas, will soon be under Bush Heritage management at the new Reedy Creek Reserve near Agnes Waters. The threatened Dunmall’s snake and beach stone-curlew will then have a safe refuge.
Reedy Creek Reserve provides Bush Heritage with a unique opportunity to protect a remnant of quality habitat in one of the most expensive, intensely used and depleted natural environments along the eastern coastline of Australia.
Shield bug. Photo Carl Moller.
The property has come to Bush Heritage under unusual circumstances. During the 1990s the Baevski family purchased around 600 hectares of land from a mining company that had bought the property for possible sand mining. As part of their purchase agreement the Baevskis persuaded the Queensland Government to ‘sterilise’ the mining exploration leases on this and other areas of land along a seven-kilometre stretch of coastline.
Of the area purchased, a total of 148 hectares has been set aside by the Baevkis for housing and common areas of native vegetation. They have applied strict guidelines to vegetation clearing, site construction and landscape management in each private lot, and in the common property areas. Water and energy conservation and reuse are a priority, and stringent rules apply to waste management, the use of endemic species in gardens, and the introduction of pets.
About 15 hectares, or around 2% of the total land area, will be cleared for housing and infrastructure. Most of the house sites have been sold.
Eastern dwarf tree frog. Photo Carl Moller.
The land adjoining the development has significant conservation values and has been given to Bush Heritage by Michael and Dellarose Baevski. The land is on a separate, freehold title and will be permanently owned and managed by Bush Heritage – our 17th reserve.
An additional parcel of land has been gifted to the Aboriginal traditional owners and an environmental education centre is planned, for use by both visitors and residents.
Each homebuyer in the new development will pay a compulsory annual environmental levy. For at least the next 25 years the levy will come to Bush Heritage to employ a reserve manager to care for the Reedy Creek Reserve and common property areas on the adjoining residential section. Bush Heritage will also manage much of the land down to the foreshore including the headland habitats, coastal dunes and turtle-breeding areas.
The total cost of managing Reedy Creek Reserve will be covered by this environmental levy, so no donations will be required either to acquire or manage this new reserve.
Melaleuca quinquenervia open forest. Photo Wayne Lawler / EcoPix.
The control of fire, erosion, weeds and feral animals will be the main management tasks facing the new reserve manager. Currently, foxes are estimated to eat 90% of the turtle clutches that are laid in the breeding areas. The reserve manager will also be involved in educating residents and visitors about the environmental values of the reserve, and in liaising with the local community.
Funds will also be used to support a local voluntary group that works to protect the shoreline habitat of the turtles that use the beach and adjacent dunes.
Nine vegetation communities are known at the site. Reedy Creek, and the pandanus-lined wetlands fed by freshwater springs, provide homes for an abundance of birds, frogs and freshwater fish. Melaleuca forests, Corymbia woodlands and vine forests protect a diversity of plants and provide vital wildlife habitat.
The rocky headlands and the fore dune communities are breeding and foraging areas for many species including the turtles and migrant and local waders.
Fifteen species of mammals, 163 species of birds, six species of native frogs and 24 species of reptiles have been recorded at the reserve so far. These include the threatened Dunmall’s snake and beach stone-curlew, and the rare grey goshawk.
Greater gliders, squirrel and sugar gliders, as well as whiptail wallabies and the tiny ‘delicate mouse’, are protected in the new reserve.
Delicate mouse. Photo G Hoyle/Nature Focus.
Access to the beach for 4WD vehicles has been closed as part of the residential plan and walking trails will provide access to all the beaches. This will greatly enhance the future of those species that depend on the beaches.
While any coastal land development in this region is regrettable, Bush Heritage welcomes the opportunity to be able to protect and manage a significant area of habitat within a coastal region that's under intense pressure from housing and recreational use. The integration of new residential subdivisions and nature conservation, whereby the people who buy the blocks of land financially support the protection of an adjacent conservation area, is a model that could well be adopted in future residential developments.
There will be many opportunities for cooperation and information-sharing between Bush Heritage, as a landowner, and the new homebuyers, the shire council, the local indigenous people, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and local voluntary conservation groups.
We look forward to taking on this wonderful new reserve and protecting all its rare animals, birds and vegetation communities for the long term.