Paul Smith, WPSQ Sunshine Coast branch
Paul has been involved in conservation and fauna issues on the Sunshine Coast for the last 15 years. With Post graduate qualifications in Landscape Ecology, and Data Analytics, he is the coordinator of Wildlife Queensland Sunshine Coast’s Faunawatch program. The program is a citizen science program with over 30 years of history gathering fauna records from the Sunshine Coast and surrounding area. It also conducts monthly surveys at the Maroochy Bushland Botanical Gardens, and an additional 10 surveys each year around the coast that are open to the public. Using species specialists, the group also conducts in-field targeted surveys for council, and land care groups.
Work has begun on the largest residential and commercial project on the Sunshine Coast. Covering approximately 25km2, when complete it will be home to an additional 50000 people, with direct runoff to the Pumicestone Passage. To the eastern side of the development approx. 700ha of land has been left as a conservation zone. The purpose of this project is to monitor the baseline fauna diversity and changes in the Aura Environmental Protection Zone.
This fauna survey, conducted by Wildlife Qld Sunshine Coast through the Aura Community Advisory Group, has shown a rich and diverse assemblage of fauna across the nature reserve of the Aura site. Three survey blocks in Feb/May/Nov were conducted each year from 2014 within the protection zone from the southern point of Wurumbambi, to the northern limit of the Blackbutt Forest. The project has provided the opportunity to investigate land that had been cleared, used as commercial pine plantation then cattle grazing field, and the riparian section around Bells Creek North and South.
Fauna presence surveys were conducted including: general opportunistic surveys, camera trapping, herptile trapping, and fish trap surveys for crustacean/fish within the waterways. The surveys have resulted in 238 species identified including 139 birds, 30 butterflies, 14 frogs, 14 reptiles, 11 mammals, 10 dragonflies, 6 spiders, 5 other invertebrates, 4 crustaceans and 5 fish. The value of this landscape is particularly noteworthy given the habitat investigated being mainly restricted to natural re-growth on an ex-pine plantation with predominantly melaleuca and sedge-grassland, and its surrounding open-eucalypt and mangrove vegetation communities.