Threatened species are found everywhere: national parks, remote islands, Australia’s arid interior to name just a few areas. But what’s often overlooked
is that at least 376 EPBC-listed threatened species, including around 26 of the 70 species prioritised for recovery under the Threatened Species strategy
have some part of their distribution in at least one Australian city or town. For at least 30 threatened species, like the Canberra Spider Orchid,
urban areas are the only place they are found.
If we are to have any success at securing their futures, we need to come up with effective strategies for their conservation in our urban spaces. Which is why the TSR Hub in conjunction with the NESP Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub, has launched the ‘Threatened Species in Cities’ project. Research fellow Kylie Soanes, who is leading the work, explains what they hope to achieve.
In urban areas Koalas are threatened by cars, dogs, disease and loss of habitat. Image: Liana Joseph
Urban living can be pretty risky for native plants and animals. The mean streets of the city can be noisy and bright, full of vehicles that can run over you, pets that want to eat you and introduced species trying to crowd you out.
And yet, you can still find native threatened species hanging on (and sometimes doing quite well) in urban environments. On a typical urban safari, you might spy fantastically-coloured frogs, cheeky marsupials, ornate orchids, diminutive dragons and majestic eucalypts. Some of these urban dwellers are tough. Some of them are just lucky. Some no longer occur anywhere else.
Part of my job is to find ways that we can improve their chances of sticking around. This means better understanding the range of threats at play, and identifying the unique opportunities that cities and towns could provide our very special natives.
Growling grass frogs are under threat from the loss of wetlands. Image: Bill Wallace
On the other hand, let’s not pretend that we always roll out the welcome mat when native species turn up in our backyards. If we think they seem dangerous, damaging or just generally annoying, things can turn from ‘friend’ to ‘foe’ very quickly. So another aspect of my work involves managing these conflicts to get good outcomes for native species and people.
What we’re really trying to do is highlight the opportunities for conservation within urban environments, showing people that very cool native species (including threatened species) occur on their doorstep, and finding practical ways to help them survive.
There is value in it for humans too. Wildlife and nature within our cities and suburbs sustains and nurtures us. Places like Kings Park in Perth are highly valued by people, and for many the experience is even richer when native wildlife are part of the experience.
So, watch this (urban) space.
You can read more about this topic in an article I wrote for the Guardian.
For further information:
Kylie Soanes firstname.lastname@example.org
Or read Kylie's blog: www.lifeontheverge.com.au
Top image: Wildlife bridges can prevent many animals, like this Brush-tailed phascogale being killed on roads. Image: Kylie Soanes
Karajarri Rangers are leading a Threatened Species Recovery Hub research project to investigate how different fire management approaches affect biodiversity. The first field trip took place in April this year, when a team of 16 rangers, support staff and scientists journeyed to the Edgar Ranges for eight days of wildlife monitoring. Hub researcher Sarah Legge worked with the rangers to compile this report from the field.
Cissy Gore-Birch is a member of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub’s steering committee and the Chair of its Indigenous Reference Group. The Indigenous Reference Group was established to assist hub leaders and project teams to strengthen the engagement and participation of Indigenous people in the hub’s activities and research projects. Cissy recently attended the Species of the Desert Festival on the Paruku Indigenous Protected Area, where she spoke about both threatened and culturally important species, and increasing the voice of Indigenous people in environmental policies and research.
Dr Sally Box, the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Commissioner, talks about the importance of working with Indigenous groups to conserve Australia’s threatened species.
Researchers from the Threatened Species Recovery Hub are calling on citizen scientists to help them learn more about Australia’s possums and gliders by recording sightings in a new, free app. Dr Rochelle Steven from the University of Queensland is passionate about Australia’s possums and gliders and believes people in the community can do a lot to help support conservation, especially in urban areas.
There are 27 different types of possums and gliders in Australia. They have a huge variety of sizes, shapes and appearances. We’ve compiled a profile on every species here. One quarter of our possums and gliders are listed as threatened under Australian environmental law. Help their conservation, be a citizen scientist: you can record sightings of possums from your local areas in the free 'CAUL Urban Wildlife App'.