In an Australian first, Sunshine Coast Council’s Mary Cairncross BioBlitz saw scientists, artists, Traditional Owners and volunteers hoisted up into the rainforest’s canopy to conduct biodiversity conservation research.

Recognising this unique take on a bioblitz initiative, which are usually conducted at ground-level, the Banksia Foundation recently recognised the Mary Cairncross BioBlitz as a Finalist in their annual Banksia Sustainability Awards.

While the vertical surveying activity was definitely unique, council’s BioBlitz also strongly aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Environment Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay explained that the international Sustainable Development Goals are key criteria in judging the Banksia Awards.

“One of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals addresses ‘Life on Land’ and is about protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystem,” Cr McKay said.

“Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is already known as an incredibly significant terrestrial ecosystem, and yet, the BioBlitz helped us identify a range of previously unrecorded species for the reserve.

“Through these discoveries and collaborative work with our Survey Team partners, we can now better manage and protect these diverse species more effectively.

“I’m so proud of our remarkable BioBlitz Survey Team, all the volunteers, and the community that engaged with this ground-breaking program.

“This Banksia Award Finalist recognition is icing on the cake of what was already an incredibly successful scientific and cultural surveying experience.”

Over the four-day program in March earlier this year, 13 scientists across seven taxonomic groups surveyed species found from the understorey to emergent canopy of five strangler fig trees.

Six artists undertook creative research, developing visual responses to the emerging biodiversity data, and Jinibara Traditional Owners shared their knowledge and perspectives with the Survey Team and community alike. 

More than 250 people participated in programmed activities, including bat detective walks, pademelon population surveys, botanical printmaking and a number of other public engagement opportunities, all aimed at raising the community’s appreciation for the reserve’s biodiversity values.

Cr McKay shared her excitement for the future of the Mary Cairncross BioBlitz.

“The Banksia Sustainability Awards, which are regarded as the most prestigious and longest-running in Australia, will be held on December 3, 2019,” Cr McKay said.

“While our beloved BioBlitz may gain further recognition, which I believe it deserves, this program already achieved such a broad range of positive outcomes for both the biodiversity of the rainforest and for our community at large.

“Because of this, council is already in preliminary consultations to develop the next interdisciplinary citizen science event.”

For more information about council’s Mary Cairncross BioBlitz and the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, please visit council’s website, sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Environment/Education-Resources-and-Events/Mary-Cairncross-BioBlitz.

Skye Leong
Author: Skye Leong

Creativity, Community, Culture