The Carpentarian Grasswren is an iconic species of the Southern Gulf region that was listed as nationally endangered in 2016. With logistical support from Southern Gulf NRM, BirdLife Northern Queensland volunteers conducted surveys for the bird during early 2016, confirming that the majority of populations exist in long-unburnt spinifex grasslands northwest of Mount Isa.
Fire is key to the future of the Carpentarian Grasswren. Adapted over millennia to an Indigenous-managed fire regime of frequent low-intensity patchwork fires, grasswrens moved from patch to patch to find suitable unburnt habitat. With the decline of Indigenous fire management practices, modern fires tend to be less frequent but much larger and more intense. This can lead to the removal of suitable grasswren habitat over very large areas and has been implicated in the decline of the species. Large fires are a problem for landholders too, destroying extensive areas of vital cattle grazing pastures. Grasswrens and landholders share an interest in best practice fire management.
Since 2016, Southern Gulf NRM has been working with local and regional partners to expand pro-active fire management practices across grasswren habitat to reduce the risk of widespread wildfire in the future. In the current project, Biodiversity Bright Spots – Carpentarian Grasswren Corridor, collaborative regional fire management will establish a fire management corridor (the Carpentarian Corridor) from the Buckley River Key Biodiversity Area to Boodjamulla National Park.
This project is supported by Southern Gulf NRM through funding from the Australian Governments National Landcare Program and the Southern Gulf NRM Environment Fund.
Other Project partners: BirdLife Australia, BirdLife Northern Queensland, Queensland Department of Environment and Science – Parks and Wildlife and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.