Managing and remediating impacts on north Queensland rainforests
Project Leader: Prof Steve Turton, JCU
Monitoring funded through this MTSRF project shows that while the habitat quality of remnant and riparian vegetation in the Mission Beach region is still affected by the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Larry (March 2006), recovery is occurring. Extensive field studies including vegetation and microclimate assessments and bird surveys showed that, due to the patchy nature of the impact, even small forest remnants and riparian rainforest strips along watercourses appeared to retain levels of biodiversity similar to areas of continuous forests that suffered severe damage in the cyclone. It appears that normal species-area relationships do not necessarily apply after such a severe cyclone, which makes rapid assessment of habitat quality problematic. These observations reinforce the need to conserve even small areas of forest in the fragmented landscape, so that there are a wide range of areas of forest - in terms of size and position in the landscape - that can act as “sources” of rainforest species after such large natural disturbances. This project has also investigated ways to remediate human impacts, such as those associated with roads, on sensitive rainforest habitats. The scientific results from this project have been compiled into two volumes - Roads in Rainforest: Best Practice Guidelines - Planning, Design and Management and the accompanying Roads in Rainforest: Science behind the Guidelines - which have already been adopted by Queensland Transport and Main Roads throughout the State, as well as by local governments maintaining and constructing roads and assessing road applications in rainforest habitat. Other government departments and entities including DERM and WTMA will also be able to apply these documents within their management regimes.
The terms 'sea-change' and 'tree-change' are popular Australian expressions for what has been termed 'amenity migration' in the United States, Canada and Europe. As the terms imply, sea- and tree-change involves a move to the coast or a forested picturesque area. Population movements from capital cities to non-metropolitan high amenity environs have been studied extensively over the past thirty years. Far North Queensland has some of the fastest growing population centres in the State outside the densely packed southeast corner. While population growth rates in coastal areas in terms of total numbers may not seem significant when compared with capital cities, the percentage growth rates experienced by coastal communities are significant when compared with their respective State and National averages. It can be speculated that this growth in population and associated urbanisation of coastal and hinterland areas in Far North Queensland, and in particular, in the Wet Tropics bioregion has much in common with the well documented sea-change phenomenon in other coastal regions of Australia. Similarly, the tree-change phenomenon seems worth investigating in the Wet Tropics bioregion, not only because as the land along the coastal strip becomes scarcer and less affordable, the nearby forested hill slopes may provide alternative locations to the coast, but also because the forested hills may attract changers for different reasons. This document reports on studies of the sea- and tree-change phenomena in Far North Queensland and provides considerations for Local Government and Natural Resource Management (NRM) authorities on managing and remediating impacts of urbanisation.
Report No. 42 -
Report No. 13 - Pohlman, C. and Goosem, M. (2008) The effects of Severe Tropical Cyclone Larry on rainforest vegetation and understorey microclimate adjacent to powerlines, highways and streams in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area
Project 4.9.3 JCU Turton, S. et al. (2008) An assessment of the environmental impacts of Cyclone Larry on the forest landscapes of northeast Queensland, with reference to responses to natural resource management issues in the aftermath
An assessment of the environmental impacts of Cyclone Larry on the forest landscapes of northeast Queensland, with reference to responses to natural resource management issues in the aftermath: Report submitted to the Bureau of Meteorology (March 2007).