Ponded wetlands, threatened plant species and an essential habitat for threatened animals - Lot 70 Forest Creek Road is full of wonder and biodiversity. 

We visited Lot 70 with ecologist Kristopher Kupsch in April to undertake a vegetation survey on the 2.07 hectare property in Forest Creek. 

During the survey, a total of 169 native species and 31 exotic plant species were identified. 

Kristopher also found that about 75% of the property contained remnant tropical rainforest and wetlands that are seasonally ponded.

Ecologist Kristopher Kupsch identified 169 species of native plants. 

Threatened plant species 

Overall, the vegetation on Lot 70 Forest Creek Road consists of two regional Ecosystems, 'Regional Ecosystem 7.11.1a Mesophyll vine forest', and 'Regional Ecosystem 7.3.10c: Mesophyll vine forest. Seasonally inundated lowland alluvial plains. Palustrine.' This ecosystem type is listed as “Of Concern” under the Vegetation Management Act 1999
Significantly, 3 plant species found on Lot 70 are listed as threatened.

Noah's Walnut (Endiandra microneura) is listed as a threatened species. 

These include: 
  • Noah's walnut (Endiandra microneura), which is listed as near-threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Found only between the Daintree River and Cape Tribulation, it is distinctive in the forest due to its vibrant displays of red new leaves, and it produces large yellow oblong-shaped fruits that are dispersed by the southern cassowary. 
  • Climbing pandanus (Freycinetia percostata) was identified on the property within paperbark-dominated forest. The southern limit of these species is at the Daintree River, so this occurrence is at its geographical extreme. It is listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

  • The China camp laurel (Beilschmiedia castrisinensis) was identified on Lot 70 and it is listed as near-threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

    Cassowaries are most often found in rainforest but also use melaleuca swamps, mangroves to find food and as connecting habitat. 

Other significant endemic plants occurring on Lot 70 include: 

  •  A handful of Daintree foambark saplings (Jagera madida). This species only occurs in the lowland rainforests between Julatten and Bloomfield, where it is relatively common.
  • The Cooper Creek Haplostichanthus (Polyalthia xanthocarpa) occurs on Lot 70 within the remnant rainforest in the northwest corner. Only one specimen was noted. It is an understorey tree less than 3m tall with small yellow fruit in clusters from the trunk and branches. It is restricted to the lowland rainforests of the Daintree but is often abundant. 

  • Pseuduvaria froggattii. This understorey tree is restricted to the Daintree lowlands extending south to the Mowbray River, and possibly as far north as Bloomfield. It is rather common around Cape Tribulation, but less in its southern ranges. It was identified in the far north-west corner of Lot 70.

  • Daintree satinash (Syzygium monospermum) was found in remnant rainforest in the north-west corner of Lot 70. The Daintree Satinash is restricted to lowland rainforest between Julatten and the Bloomfield. It is an important food resource for the southern cassowary, sugar gliders and others birds that feed on the nectar laden flowers borne straight from the main trunk. The species has a unique relationship with native ants which live inside the trunk, entering via chambers the tree creates for them. This is presumably a mutualistic beneficial relationship created over millennia, and the only example of its kind in Australia, possibly the world. 

Old growth tropical rainforest on Lot 70 Forest Creek Road

Unfortunately, Lot 70 also has a number of exotic plants, both planted and naturalised. The sheer majority of these species are associated with the housing footprint and include ornamentals and fruit trees. The successful purchase of this property will result in the removal of weeds on the property, ensuring this ecosystem can continue to flourish unhindered. 

Please, act now and donate to help purchase Lot 70 Forest Creek Road in the Daintree Rainforest.

Lot 70 Forest Creek Road, Forest Creek

Ecosystem significance 

Lot 70 is important in maintaining a vegetated wildlife corridor across the landscape, as the property is a component of a significant and extensive tract of forest that runs from the mangrove wetland delta of the Daintree River to the Alexandra Range, and the Thornton Peak mountains to the immediate north. 
Both regional ecosystems present on the property (7.3.10 and 7.11.1) are categorised as essential habitat of the endangered southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii), with individuals recently seen crossing Forest Creek Road. Several cassowary food plants such as Atractocarpus fitzalanii, Beilschmiedia castrisinensis, Cerbera floribunda, Endiandra microneura, Syzygium graveolens and Syzygium monospermum were recorded, with the occurrence of B. castrisinensis on site almost certainly associated with historic cassowary dispersal. 

Large broad-leaved paperbark (Melaleuca quinquenervia) occur on the property. 

Orange-footed scrub fowl (Megapodius reinwardt) were heard nearby during the survey, and the visually stunning larvae of the pink underwing moth (Phyllodes imperialis subsp. meyricki) was observed feeding on the foliage of the native vine Hypserpa laurina.

There's also a high chance that the vulnerable Macleay's fig parrot uses the property. 

And while the vegetation on Lot 70 Forest Creek Road contains approximately 75% remnant vegetation, the presence of a second remnant ecosystem in the far north-west of the property was identified, with the vegetation in this area known to harbour many restricted and uncommon plant species. 

As well as protecting the rainforest and wetlands on Lot 70, the purchase of the property will ensure connectivity across the landscape. Increased urbanisation at Forest Creek will further disrupt natural processes by fragmenting habitat and creating an edge effect. The core-to-edge ratio of rainforest patches is integral in maintaining ecologically sound, functioning forests. 

Please, act now and donate to help purchase Lot 70 Forest Creek Road in the Daintree Rainforest. Your donation will help purchase and protect essential cassowary habitat. 

The majority of Lot 70 is mapped as Aquatic Conservation Significant (riverine wetlands).

A wetland wonderland 

Situated on the lower side of Forest Creek Road, the property is relatively close to the Daintree river delta. The property is very wet with ponded and flowing water in parts. 

For this reason, the majority (99.97%) of Lot 70 is mapped as being Aquatic Conservation Significant (riverine wetlands). The northern bank of the Daintree River contains good biodiversity and good fish habitat, including an isolated population of McCullough’s rainbow fish (Melanotaenia maccullochi) which is morphologically distinctive. The location is also home to endangered species of frogs and may provide habitat for many other rare and threatened species.

The site is seasonally ponded, containing palustrine wetlands in the lower reaches bordering the Daintree River delta. The forest in this region is dominated by swamp box (Lophostemon suaveolens) and melaleuca species, with brown gardenia (Atractocarpus fitzalanii) and red beech (Dillenia alata) often dominant in the understorey. 

This ponding is known as Gilgai microrelief, which occurs when the clay soil layers shrink and swell during alternate drying and wetting cycles. This gradually forces 'blocks' of subsoil material upwards to form mounds. Gilgai relief determines species recruitment based on the level of inundation with specific species favouring raised mounds rather than ponded situations. Many species exhibit aerial roots and spongy raised lenticles for gaseous exchange as oxygen is limited in the anaerobic soil. 

Find out more about the Forest Creek wetlands.

Urgent response needed 

If we don't buy at-risk Daintree properties like Lot 70 for conservation, they can be sold to people who intend to develop the land for housing. Lot 70 Forest Creek Road is zoned by the Douglas Shire Council for rural residential development, which means all that’s required for clearing and construction to commence is an approved development application.

In recent years, the rate of land sales in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest has escalated. Many people sought a tree change in the wake of COVID-19 and we saw an increase in clearing for housing development. That’s why we've exchanged a contract of sale and paid a deposit. Now comes the challenge to raise the funds that will complete the purchase and protect this property from the threat of development. 

Please, act now and donate to help purchase Lot 70 Forest Creek Road in the Daintree Rainforest. Your donation will help purchase and protect essential cassowary habitat.

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Answers to the most frequently asked questions for the purchase and protection of Lot 70 Forest Creek Road in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest here

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