The Cassowary is often used as a hero image for conservation.
How fitting it is to have a dinosaur bird in the Daintree with its lineage going back millions of years to the ancient Gondwanan Rainforest. However, the Cassowary also helps us tell a more modern and precarious tale.
The combined impacts of climate change and development are impacting on rainforests around the world. We know that half the trees on the planet have been lost and 15 billion trees are chopped or burned down every year. Yet these facts are so nebulous they’re difficult to comprehend, or know how to take action.
When we bring focus to the local level it’s easier to see what can be done. The Cassowary helps us tell this tale.
Cassowary photo © Paul Ijsendoorn
In the Daintree, the lowland rainforest is under the greatest threat from break-up and change. Research shows the disproportionate impacts on biodiversity when rainforest is fragmented. The Cassowary relies on certain species of fruit to get it through lean times; the availability and distribution of these fruit will impact on future Cassowary numbers. In addition, the Cassowary is needed by certain trees for seed dispersal; its ability to move through the local environment will impact on tree distribution. When we start to destroy natural habitat, build roads, introduce invasive weeds and generally disrupt the Cassowary’s mobility we upset this balance.
Add in the extra pressures brought by greater variability in weather patterns, from droughts and floods, the resilience of the rainforest starts to be compromised. If a Cassowary is unable to travel to an area and disperse a seed, we lose the potential of a tree and all the other species that rely on that tree for life. A small impact, but one that is cumulative.
Luckily we can do something about this. You and fellow rainforest rescuers are buying back strategic rainforest properties to create wildlife corridors to stop fragmentation of the unique and ancient lowland Daintree forest.
Of the 27 properties saved by Rainforest Rescue in the Daintree, 21 are now covered with Nature Refuge Covenants, protecting them forever. In addition, two further properties have been gifted to the adjacent Daintree National Park. The remaining four properties will be protected with covenants once restoration work and other legal processes are complete.