HUMANE SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL PROTECTING THREATENED CASSOWARY HABITAT AHEAD OF WORLD CASSOWARY DAY
September 22, 2017
With World Cassowary Day set to be celebrated this Sunday the 24th of September, Humane Society International was thrilled to receive notification this week that our nomination seeking protection for vital cassowary habitat has been prioritised for assessment by Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg.
The ecological community, Lowland Tropical Rainforest of the Wet Tropics Bioregion, is located between Townsville and Cooktown in Queensland and is core habitat for southern cassowaries, an endangered and iconic keystone species that is vital for the transfer of seeds for many species of rainforest plants.
“Lowland Tropical Rainforest of the Wet Tropics Bioregion has been ravaged by clearing for cane farming since the 1840s and less than 20% remains. Of that at least 90% is highly fragmented, so just 2% of the original extent of this vital cassowary habitat is in good, functioning condition. It is imperative that these last remnants are protected,” said Humane Society International Head of Programs Evan Quartermain.
If the Minister’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee agrees the habitat should be listed as a Threatened Ecological Community under national environment law it will give the magnificent southern cassowary a chance to survive by protecting its remaining fragmented habitats from ongoing urban development. Occurring on the coast of the Great Barrier Reef, there are significant additional benefits to protecting threatened vegetation in the lowlands of the Wet Tropics such as reduced erosion and nutrient runoff.
“We’re optimistic that extra protection for this habitat will be a reality after the assessment is completed in 2019, complementing the incredible efforts to safeguard cassowary habitat made by dozens of members of our Wildlife Land Trust program on their private properties,” Mr Quartermain concluded.
All three Threatened Ecological Communities prioritised for assessment this year and 11 of the 14 currently being assessed have resulted from Humane Society International’s successful nomination program.