Coldstream project

We are working with 44 private landholders and public land managers across 25,000 hectares in the Border Ranges to bring the North Coast emu back from the brink of extinction by restoring wildlife habitat and enhancing conservation values.

Precious wildlife habitat

The Upper Coldstream catchment between Grafton and Yamba on the state’s North Coast contains significant habitat for a range of endangered species, including the coastal emu. A census in 2012 found there were only about 130 emus left in the geographically isolated North Coast population, a perilously low number. Invasive weeds, pest animals and unsuitable fire regimes have degraded vital emu habitat in the catchment, which is one of the species’ last refuges. Fire will play a vital role in the emu’s long-term survival in this region. While high-intensity wildfire has the potential to destroy nesting sites and kill breeding adults, the careful use of fire can promote the fruit- and seed-bearing native shrubs and nesting sites the emu needs.

What we are doing

We are working with 44 private landholders and public land managers across 25,000 hectares in the Border Ranges to bring the North Coast emu back from the brink of extinction by restoring wildlife habitat and enhancing conservation values. Rather than each landholder and land manager working alone, the Upper Coldstream Project enables stakeholders to tackle these landscape-scale problems in a coordinated, cooperative way across the whole catchment.

Project partners are using fire to create a patchwork of vegetation at various stages of regeneration to provide essential food, shelter and nesting sites. A restoration team of bush regenerators is working on gullies, waterways and wetlands that connect several properties and contain lowland rainforest remnants, rare plants and refuges for native animals.

Participants hope this holistic approach will help to improve habitat, reduce the frequency of destructive wildfires, maximise carbon storage, and enhance ecosystem resilience. It will also improve connectivity along this major wildlife coastal corridor, which is part of the broader Great Eastern Ranges Initiative. Partners will share knowledge and skills at workshops and field days, and the results will be monitored by scientists and members of the community to see what works best.

Cultural connections

The emu has great cultural significance for the Aboriginal people of the Bandjalung, Yaegl and Gumbaynggirr nations on the North Coast. The Upper Coldstream Project is working closely with the Macquarie University’s National Indigenous Science Education Program, the Firesticks Project and the Yaegl community to do surveys, fire management planning, and mosaic burns on Birrigan Gargle Lands.

 

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