Mt Tabor Indigenous cattle station

Mt Tabor Station is currently owned by the Indigenous Land Corporation with the intention of returning the property to Bidjara traditional owners over the next few years.

For the last 11 years Mt Tabor has been managed by Keelen Mailman, a Bidjara woman who in 2007 was a Queensland-Australian of the year finalist, and is considered to be Australia’s first female Aboriginal cattle station manager. Mt Tabor Station is situated on Keelan’s traditional country in the Carnarvon Ranges in central Queensland and covers an area of around 70,000 hectares with 2200 head of cattle leased to a business which also leases cattle on other properties in the district.

Mt Tabor is not a designated conservation area, but the management of the property occurs in such a way as to make conservation of environmental assets, and cultural sites a critical outcome, along with the economic and social benefits Keelen is a Native Title applicant and a current member of the Bidjara Traditional Owners Group. She is strongly committed and passionate about the protection and preservation of Bidjara culture, including the return of the remains of deceased Bidjara to their country. Keelen has worked with various organisations within the local region such as Aboriginal Health, schools, Landcare and Bush Heritage Australia. One project at Mt Tabor is based on a natural spring system surrounded by artefact scatters. The spring complex was being heavily impacted by feral horses, feral pigs and cattle. Pools were churned into a mud and manure slurry and no free standing clear water remained. In cooperation with the Indigenous Land Corporation, South West Natural Resource Management Inc. and the Bidjara people, the area was fenced off.

Based on field visits and knowledge sharing with neighbouring Carnarvon Station (a Bush Heritageowned property) pig-proof, buried mesh fencing was used and a solar powered pump and trough installed in a more stable area, away from the springs, outside the fencing. This means that larger native animals still have access to water here and feral animals will be less likely to damage the new fencing trying to get through to their well-known watering hole. The site will be maintained in the long term to maintain a viable primary production enterprise while protecting the cultural and natural values of the area. Further fencing to protect other springs, cultural artefact scatters and Indigenous artwork is part of the long-term management plan for the property. A property management plan is currently in preparation for Mt Tabor which will address the range of considerations important to Bidjara people including cultural, social, economic and environmental considerations, and ensuring elders and young people are able to visit and maintain connection to traditional
country.

Binding versus non-binding conservation

Humane Society International’s Wildlife Land Trust (WLT) is a network of privately owned lands dedicated to conservation. Although the agreements are non-binding, many members have in-perpetuity covenants on title through various bodies, and a large number are actively involved in wildlife rehabilitation and community environment efforts.

Wildlife Land Trust Case Study 1 – non-covenanted
active

photo:Toby Zema

photo:Toby Zema

Scott and Susan Reilly – Lomandra – QLD

Lomandra is a wildlife sanctuary and residence used for wildlife rehabilitation, and features a habitat garden open to the public. The owners continue to reinstate the original vegetation associations of Lomandra, both terrestrial and aquatic, and to use the property as an environmental education site. Despite Lomandra being the smallest WLT refuge (0.2
hectares) the owners are heavily influential on their local environment, being responsible for the revegetation of the section of Yarraman Creek adjoining their property as well as up and downstream. Their significant efforts have been recognised through inclusion as a finalist in the Seqwater Rural Award section of the Healthy Waterways Awards for 2012.
Vegetation on Lomandra is of high conservation value (Queensland Endangered Vegetation Area 12.3.7) and more than 130 bird species have been recorded on the refuge throughout the last 6 years, as well as a wide range of other wildlife such as yellow-bellied gliders, platypuses, northern brown bandicoots, eastern longnecked turtles, and a rich variety of butterflies and invertebrates.

Wildlife Land Trust Case Study 2 – non-covenanted high conservation value

photo: Louise Docker

photo: Louise Docker

Ken and Sandy Loveland – Kenandra – WA

Kenandra is a wildlife sanctuary and release site used for wildlife rehabilitation, education, recreation, tourism and agriculture, and is currently set up as an Agroforestry Enterprise and farm-stay. It is the owners’ intent to remove all feral pests from the property, enclose it with a vermin-proof fence, and for it to be a release site for endangered species. The property covers 308 diverse hectares adjacent to the Hill River and Hill River Reserve, with landscape features including undulating sand over clays, river silts,
mound springs, and outcrops of sandstone, limestone and ironstone. More than 50% of the property is natural bushland dominated by species such as Corymbia calophylla, Eucalyptus camaldulensis and E. loxophleba. Known wildlife inhabitants of Kenandra include western brush wallabies, emus, various snakes and lizards, long-necked tortoises, and bird species such as Carnaby’s black cockatoos, western corellas, New Holland honeyeaters, splendid fairywrens and Australasian grebes.

Wildlife Land Trust Case Study 3 – with Voluntary Conservation Agreement

Photo: Glen Fergus

Photo: Glen Fergus

Aki Green and Marg Wetsteyn – Glen Eden – NSW

Purchased as a conservation education block and small-scale farm, Glen Eden is an 850 hectare property largely covered by a Voluntary Conservation Agreement with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage. The owners are allowing the land to naturally regenerate and have received funding for feral species and weed monitoring and control, and fencing stock out
of wetlands and riparian areas. After being approached by a mining company recently, the Wildlife Land Trust supported the owners by contacting the company on their behalf. Diverse habitat types on Glen Eden encompass montane wetlands (ephemeral), heaths, eucalyptus and casuarina woodlands, and vegetation associated with granite outcrops. Vegetation species present include several that are listed as threatened in NSW such as the Torrington pea, Tenterfield eyebright, Torrington mint bush and Rupp’s wattle (also listed as endangered
federally.) Ephemeral and mound springs provide a permanent water source for wildlife species present, which include pretty-faced wallabies, a variety of frogs, snakes, lizards, spiders and microbats, and a wide range of bird life such as boobook owls, wedge-tailed eagles, yellowfaced honeyeaters and nankeen kestrels. The property also provides shelter for several species listed as vulnerable in NSW: the diamond firetail; powerful owl; glossy black cockatoo; hooded robin; barking owl; and brown treecreeper.

Commonalities:

These three case studies provide an example of the broad range of property uses, sizes and locations within the Wildlife Land Trust. Despite the non-binding nature of the program they demonstrate how active engagement and regular communication with members fosters and encourages pride in individual efforts. Appropriate covenanting opportunities are not always
available to, and sometimes not desired by property owners managing their land for conservation purposes, and non-binding agreements such as those offered by the Wildlife Land Trust offer a suitable alternative.