Mission Beach is situated 140km south of Cairns in far north Queensland. It is a place of magnificent biodiversity with 12.8% of the remaining lowland rainforest in the Wet Tropics and the largest contiguous ‘block’ of lowland rainforest south of the Daintree River. It is the best coastal to highlands rainforest corridor in the Wet Tropics and the most integral and widest east-west corridor between Cairns and Cardwell. With at least 5% of all Australian vascular plant species and approximately 36% of Australia’s bird species it also has the highest density of cassowaries in Australia.
Mission Beach is at the junction of two of the 14 World Heritage Areas, the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics. The setting of wet tropical rainforests adjacent to a fringing reef is an unusual feature found only in a few Pacific Islands, Indonesia and Belize. Mission Beach is recognised as one of the 4 priority biodiversity hot spots in Far North Queensland alongside the Daintree, Southern Atherton Tablelands and Ingham lowlands.
Of the remaining lowland rainforest in Mission Beach, 40% is unprotected and threatened with potential development.
Unfortunately such beautiful places attract development and as a result, developers have cleared the lowland rainforest and good quality agricultural land for over 1000 residential blocks on sub divisions. The speculative habitat and corridor clearing is posing numerous threats to local endangered wildlife such as the Cassowary. Habitat loss and fragmentation leaves the cassowary no choice but to move through unprotected lengths of landscape, exposing them to dogs and traffic.
Estimates suggest that future developments can increase the population in Mission Beach from 3,500 up to 18,000 which would have huge adverse effects on threatened and endangered wildlife of the area.
Cassowary populations in Mission Beach have declined due to the continuing loss and degradation of their lowland rainforest habitat and from cyclone-related impacts. Traffic calming devices are being trialled on the Tully-Mission Beach Road in an attempt to reduce the high numbers of cassowary road kills however, ongoing development continues to put the local cassowary population at risk.
At present, no cassowary habitat clearing should occur without the proposal being referred to the Federal government for approval as the Cassowary is protected under the Federal EPBC Act 1999. Like the Daintree, land buy back is a high priority in Mission Beach. But some of the blocks are extremely expensive so we need to urge the Federal and Queensland governments to fund and enact special land use planning for Mission Beach and offer land owners incentives to protect key cassowary habitats and corridors. Send an urgent message to Minister Burke today urging him to fund protection of the Cassowary habitat in Mission Beach.
Hill, R., Williams K.J., Pert, P.L., Grace, R., O’Malley, T. and S. Jenkins 2009. ‘Mission Beach Habitat Network Action Plan’ CSIRO and Terrain NRM, Cairns.