Protection, monitoring and restoration of biodiversity
Conservation on private land in western Kangaroo Island is now vitally important following the devastation of critical habitat and loss of wildlife in the recent catastrophic fires.
In western Kangaroo Island, Flinders Chase, Western River National Park, Kelly Hill and Lathami Conservation Parks have all been burned out. While the small number of national parks staff are overwhelmed by the scale of the damage and challenge they now face, landholders are also working together to protect, monitor and restore the biodiversity retained on bushland they have responsibility for.
The Threatened Species Recovery Hub provides a ‘conservation response to the 2019-20 wildfires’ across Australia.
The Kangaroo Island Conservation Landowners Association (KICLA) members have joined other residents working to install nest boxes for bats, pygmy possums and birds. As the consequences of a landscape-scale fire such as this are not known, it is especially important to record all aspects of the boxes that are erected, and to monitor the outcomes. We are also ensuring appropriate water points and feed is available in accordance with expert guidelines.
Night vision motion cameras have been installed to monitor remaining remnant patches of bush. Existing photo points on member’s land allows for long-term records of fire recovery processed. Now is an ideal time to install such photo 4 points so that the nature and pace of the vegetation recovery can be documented.
Faunal surveys using thermal sensors flown on drones are also being trialled at night over several properties, with early results suggesting that this could be a highly effective future tool.
- Here is a short sample of the infra red imagery filmed on KI in January-February 2020.
- An article describing this work in 'The Advertiser' Saturday 29 February 2020.
Biological Survey Manuals
For any property owner contemplating setting up some scientifically-based assessment of recovery of the plants and animals on their property following the fire, the following links to the two biological survey manuals set out DEW standards for such biological surveys. While none of us are equipped to do the whole range of survey work outlined here they do give an indication of some standards to aim for in relation to setting up repeatable photopoints and properly recording and establishing databases of observations of plants and vertebrate animals.
- Guidelines for Vegetation Surveys in South Australia Using the Biological Survey of South Australia
- Guidelines for Vertebrate Surveys in South Australia: using the Biological Survey of South Australia
Pictures of one of the standard ‘Biological Survey of South Australia’ photopoints on member property ‘Wiluwilya’ in the western end of Kangaroo Island before and after the January fires show how powerful an exact replica photopoint can be. Continued monitoring will document the stages of regeneration.