Australia will soon have a framework to design a national network of ‘safe havens’ for threatened mammals, following a recent workshop with 24 leading
conservation specialists from federal and state governments, NGOs and academia.
The Government’s Threatened Species Strategy includes a commitment to invest in safe havens for species vulnerable to introduced predators – including five predator-free islands and ten large fenced areas.
The TSR Hub’s research is providing important context for this commitment, by identifying the areas where new safe havens will achieve the greatest population increases for the largest number of threatened mammal species, and reduce the chance of further extinctions.
The approach is based on a framework developed by Jeremy Ringma (University of Queensland), Brendan Wintle (University of Melbourne) and Michael Bode (University of Melbourne).
The approach will also be useful for state governments, NGOs and conservation groups, working at national, state or regional levels, by providing another tool to use in their existing or planned translocation programs.
Predator-free islands and fenced areas are important for native mammal species that are highly susceptible to predation from cats and foxes. However, being able to recover threatened species in the broader landscape is also critical.
This research project will also identify those areas where appropriate environmental management (i.e. fire, cats and foxes) will benefit native species that do not require complete protection from cats and foxes.
The Australian Government Department of the Environment including the Threatened Species Commissioner’s Office, Environmental Resources Information Network and Parks Australia, Threatened Species Recovery Hub, State and Territory environment departments, , Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Bush Heritage and Arid Recovery were all represented at the workshop.
Image: Jim Radford (Bush Heritage) and Michael Bode (University of Melbourne).
The Threatened Species Recovery Hub is receiving an additional $2 million to deliver research and scientific advice to help support wildlife and habitat recovery efforts following Australia’s bushfire crisis. The rapid rollout of meetings and expert workshops that were planned as part of this response now faces the added and acute challenge of COVID-19.
Predation by cats is a key threat to at least 123 threatened species in Australia. Better understanding and reducing the impact of feral cats on susceptible wildlife has been a major area of research for the Threatened Species Recovery Hub. Hub Deputy Directors Professors Sarah Legge and John Woinarski take a look at our research to address Australia’s cat problem.
The 2019–20 bushfires have been extensive and – in some areas – of very high severity. Many threatened species have had most of their distributions burnt, and fire is likely to have imperilled many species not previously considered threatened. One of the post-fire challenges to population recovery that many native species will face is increased risk of predation, including by introduced foxes and cats.
Australia has many unique small- to medium-sized mammals, which are vulnerable to predation by cats and foxes, two carnivores introduced to the continent with European arrival. For many of these species, effective conservation means heavy or total suppression of cats and/or foxes.
Oliver Tester from the Office of the Threatened Species Commissioner tells us about the Australian Government’s action on feral cats.