The towering fan palms that give Fan Palm Reserve its name. Photo: Wayne Lawler.
For such a small parcel of land, Fan Palm Reserve punches well above its weight.
Rescued from developers in 1993, the reserve's most striking visual feature is its fan palms, from which it draws its name.
Growing up to 15 metres high, the palms form a dense canopy in the mesophyll vine forest that covers Fan Palm Reserve. Elsewhere, much of this forest type has been cleared for farming and it's now uncommon.
Fan Palm is also important as Bush Heritage's only reserve within Queensland's Wet Tropics World Heritage Area – a national biodiversity hotspot that's home to more than half of Australia's bird species and 60% of both our butterfly and bat species.
One of these bird species, the nationally endangered southern cassowary, plays a critical role in keeping tropical ecosystems alive through seed dispersal and germination.
All this has been protected thanks to the generosity of our supporters.
Southern cassowary. Photo: Dave Kimble.
Boyd's bush dragon. Photo: Siggy Heise-Pavlov.
Hairy red pittosporum. Photo: Siggy Heise-Pavlov.
What this reserve protects
There are good signs that the nationally endangered southern cassowary is using the habitat protected by Fan Palm Reserve. It also protects these significant species and communities:
- Herbert River ringtail possum
- Green ringtail possum
- Lemuroid ringtail possum
- Striped possum
- Bennett's tree kangaroo
- Cleistanthus oblongifolius
- Neostrearia fleckeri
- Ryparosa javanica
Mesophyll vine forest with dominant fan palms (Licuala ramsayi)
What we’re doing on the property
Luckily, the vegetation of Fan Palm Reserve is robust and requires no direct intervention to maintain its integrity.
One threat to the ground storey comes from feral pigs, which descend on the area between March and September.
Ploughing up ground beneath fan palms and the taller rainforest trees, the pigs leave a trail of destruction, compacting soil, disturbing the forest floor and opening up large barren patches of earth.
Digging by feral pigs damages the fragile soils of Fan Palm Reserve. Photo by Wayne Lawler
The only solution is trapping, and that's where pig expert Dr Peter ‘Piggy' Heise-Pavlov comes in, playing an invaluable role in keeping these feral animals in check on the reserve.
He regularly traps the pigs and removes them from the reserve.
The fringe of the reserve is vulnerable to lantana infestation, which we're working to control.
Bush Heritage rescue mission
When Bush Heritage bought Fan Palm Reserve in August 1993, it was very much a rescue mission.
Fan Palm Reserve: protecting a precious piece of the Daintree. Photo: Steven Nowakowski.
Conservationists had become deeply alarmed at the amount of privately-owned Daintree rainforest being subdivided and cleared. The Wet Tropics Management Authority, worried about the disastrous impact of development on the fragile ecology of the Daintree, had already bought several blocks in the area.
Next to these blocks was another vital eight hectares of remnant lowland rainforest, dominated by the marvellous Australian fan palm and home to at least eight rare or threatened plant species.
By buying this block with public donations, Bush Heritage demonstrated to decision-makers that the public cares deeply about lowland rainforest and wants it protected.
Nearly 20 years later, Fan Palm Reserve plays a small but important role in ensuring the survival of threatened animals by providing habitat for species such as the southern cassowary, the striped possum, and Bennett's tree kangaroo.
The area around Fan Palm Reserve was traditionally used by Kuku Yalangi women for gathering edible plants.
This reserve contains cultural heritage materials of interest to Aboriginal people. In the future, we will carry out a cultural values assessment to better understand the significance of this reserve.