Nadjunuga, with very high flora and fauna conservation values, is a Wildlife Refuge that is a mountainous 16 hectare, privately owned property surrounded by the Camberwarra Range Nature Reserve. It is situated in the coastal highlands of South East Australia. It was established 1979 by David Blackall and has been managed since for the purposes of education, research, conservation, BioBanking, carbon sinking and minimum impact recreation. It is listed as a NSW BioBanking site, having been found to have very high flora and fauna conservation values.
Origins of the nameThe word 'Nadjunuga' comes from the local Indigenous Yuin language and translates as old man mountain - his white hair is the mist captured by trees as it passes inland from the sea, then uplifted by the mountain, or is itself emitted by the trees on the mountain as part of the water cycle (Source: the late Uncle Frank Mumbler from Mumbulla Mountain). Nadjunuga Wildlife Refuge contains sites of significance to the Indigenous Yuin Nation.
BiobankingOne of the aims of the Nadjunuga Wildlife Refuge is to one day offset a development somewhere in the immediate region of Kangaroo Valley, or the surrounding escarpments, through a biodiversity BioBanking agreement. The legislation is currently tight: the offset area must be ecologically identical in habitat (species) to the area of land that is the BioBanking lot. To achieve this aim, Nadjunuga Wildlife Refuge will have to undergo ongoing and complete habitat counts of species that are likely to be dislodged in the development that it will offset within the biodiversity BioBanking agreement. This is conducted on a six monthly basis by Master of Science students from the University of Wollongong.
Walking trailThe property has a Right of Carriageway, co-ordinate surveyed, across the adjoining property. Parts of this Right of Carriageway now serve as the Nadjunuga walking trail. The walking trail was built over 2012 to 2015 and was funded by way of the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife. Following contours and natural features it is a pleasant walk meandering occasionally within the easement co-ordinates and finding a way down through the cliffs and rainforest. The walking trail enables minimum-impact access to the property for basic maintenance and conducting wildlife surveys.
In 2016 the walking trail officially became an ecological survey transect, enabling University of Wollongong research to be conducted. This will determine the 'status' of the biodiversity, in and around Nadjunuga Wildlife Refuge.
We are using global positioning satellite technology to accurately determine the coordinates of the walking trail, to then produce a map for its continued use for scientific and educational purposes.
WildlifeThe Nadjunuga Wildlife Refuge is a temperate rain-forest, rehabilitating from selective cable logging operations prior to 1970. It has been found to hold unusual species abundance, largely due to its northerly aspect, managed conservation, pockets of rich volcanic soil (Gerringong tuff origin) and habitat sheltered by cliffs and escarpment.
A fauna and flora assessment was made in 1997. Dominant flora includes species such as:
- Brown Barrel (Eucalyptus fastigata)
- Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera)
- Monkey Gum (Eucalyptus cypellocarpa)
Riparian closed forest is dominated by:
- Lilly Pilly (Syzygium smithii)
- Native Daphene (Pittosporum undulatum)
- Coachwood (Ceratopetalum apetalum)
Some of the threatened animal and bird species found include:
- Southern Brown Bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus)
- Tiger Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus)
- White-footed Dunnart (Sminthopsis leucopus)
- Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)
- Long-nosed Potoroo (Potorous tridactylus)
- Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby (Petrogale penicillata)
- Yellow-bellied Sheathtail Bat (Saccolaimus flavientris)
- Great Barred Frog (Mixophyes balbus)
- Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua)
- Eastern Bristlebird (Dasyornis brachypterus)
- Olive Whistler (Pachycephala olivacea)
- Glossy-black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami)
- Rose-crowned fruit dove (Ptilinopus regina)
- Superb fruit dove (Ptilinopus superbus)
- Ruppell's broad-nosed bat (Scoteanax rueppellii)
- Common Bent-wing Bat (Miniopterus schreibersii)
- Little Bent-wing Bat (Miniopterus australis)
In scientifically surveying Nadjunuga, we are providing crucial information on how well-endangered species such as the quolls and other species have responded to disturbances in the region. Quolls are habitat generalists and indicator species. In the absence of competition from introduced carnivores, they occupy the top carnivore position. Their presence (or absence) is naturally related to their habitat's health status, particularly affected by humans, in terms of disturbance (development clearing, road clearing, logging, agriculture, recreation) and the abundance of the quoll's prey.
Recent remote-digital-camera mammal surveys and scat analyses in 2014, on Nadjunuga, revealed foxes, little dogs, and feline cats have entered the area. This means the quoll (the Eastern, the spotted tail or the tiger quoll) present at the time of the last survey (1997), may now be critically endangered or extinct, due to habitat competition from foxes in particular. Consequently, an eradication program has been undertaken, funded by the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife.
Such information is of fundamental importance to the long-term survival of the quoll in the wider region. The Nadjunuga surveys need to be ongoing, to continue informing wider regional management, from its unique habitat status, and so that strategic actions can be mounted to conserve the habitat.
The quollsThe quoll is an iconic Australian marsupial that is scientifically grouped (Order: Dasyuromorphia) with the now extinct Tasmanian tiger (Thylacine). Very little was known about the biology and ecology of the Tasmanian tiger before it became extinct. While a moderate level of knowledge exists for the quoll, this information predominantly relates to aspects of the species' general ecology. Little is known, as to which habitats they prefer at landscape levels, in particular in disturbed landscapes.
Data obtained along the walking trail to date may be used to help determine if quolls have a preference for old growth open forest, as compared to logged forest, or rain-forest, or the inverse. The survey methods used may also determine differences in prey abundance across the study transect, to perhaps determine if habitat use is correlated to the density of prey items.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that until 30 years ago, the spotted-tailed quoll, mainland Australia's apex predator, was a common species. But decline was near: it was known for killing poultry in rural landscapes and so was often shot for that reason. As a consequence of such persecution, and continued habitat loss and competition from introduced carnivores, this species has undergone a rapid decline. Consequently, in 2004 the Australian government's threatened species committee listed the species as endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, concluding that the spotted-tailed quoll could be extinct on mainland Australia within only a few decades.
Apex predators are fundamentally important to ecosystem function because of the control they exert over food webs. If an apex predator is removed from an ecosystem a trophic cascade may result in which smaller prey become more abundant and subsequently their prey more scarce. This, in turn, affects communities of other plants and animals, potentially altering the overall ecosystems health and function.
The spotted-tailed quoll is already extinct in a large proportion of its habitat and its potential extinction elsewhere means a serious, if not detrimental consequence to overall ecosystem function. For example, with an over-abundance of herbivorous prey, the structure of forests can be severely altered through a cascading effect, thus affecting species such as potoroos, a threatened species, that rely upon dense under-story vegetation for survival.
ContributionsThe owner / manager of Nadjunuga Wildlife Refuge made a contribution in 2014 to the NSW biodiversity legislation review and sent a submission to the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel. The panel has now completed its final report and has submitted it to the NSW Government. The panel's final report can be viewed here: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/biodiversity/BiodivLawReview.pdf
For further information and to register your interest in receiving more information about the review in the future, please visit: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/biodiversitylegislation/review.htm
Nadjunuga is dedicated therefore to supporting science, education, and the community.
Science: the research is based on solid scientific theory and practice. It is a project that is scientifically informed and will contribute to the field of conservation biology through the publication of scientific manuscripts, presentation of data at international conferences and meetings.
Education: the scientific fieldwork is conducted in remote areas that are steep, even dangerously precipitous, with areas of dense rainforest. Understanding the bush and wildlife and developing a sense for adventure is needed to surmount the trying fieldwork conditions that are likely to be encountered.
Community: the research cannot be conducted without the help of students, volunteers and local community members. Therefore, we are seeking members of the local communities near Nadjunuga to inform us if, when and where they have seen quolls.
Seminars will be delivered to local community groups (e.g. Landcare groups, natural history societies) communicating the findings of the field surveys conducted at Nadjunuga.
|All colour photographs: David Blackall.|