Paul Donatiu is the local man on the ground for Healthy Waterways and Catchments and he’s about to launch a series of events exposing some of the Gold Coast’s rare treasures.
Paul is hoping the workshops will be an easy entry point for people to better appreciate special plants and animals and the ecosystems in which they live.
“They will give people a chance to understand what is rare and threatened across the Gold Coast in different locations,” Paul told Blank GC.
The workshops are being run through a partnership with the City’s Naturally GC program and will focus on species listed as rare and threatened.
“There are quite a few listed species,” Paul said telling me about one of the workshops, “like shorebirds. We’ll take people to Curlew Island, have a look at roosting sites and wading sites, and get an understanding of what their habitat needs are.”
Each workshop will explore 20 animals and 20 plants. Birds, frogs, crayfish and invertebrates all get a look-in and Paul tells me about some of the specific species that experts will introduce people to.
“Spiny freshwater crayfish, Richmond birdwing butterfly, pink underwing moth…” he goes on. “Habitat ranges are pretty big (for those animals) and cover the whole of the Gold Coast.”
A new spiny freshwater crayfish was described on the Gold Coast recently when one was found in Lamington National Park just three years ago.
“Some of the places they’re turning up are places like Currumbin and Tallebudgera Valley,” Paul said. “There’s a dwarf spiny freshwater cray, just 2.5cm long, that’s thought to only occur in the upper parts of those valleys.”
“There’s all these things on people’s doorstep that they’re not aware of. They probably drive past them every day and they might be incredibly rare.”
The plants being explored are more specific to the sites that each workshop will take place at. There are two listed southern macadamia species – Macadamia integrifolia and Macadamia tetraphylla. The giant swamp orchid (Phaius australis) is also rare. It’s found in heathland that’s inundated and was once found across the coastal lowland strip.
“There’s a few individual plants still holding on at Pine Ridge Conservation Park,” Paul said. “And a population on South Straddie as well. Those vegetation types on South Straddie would have been all over north and southern parts of the coast.”
Another plant Eucryphia jinksii was discovered only in the mid-90s by leading Gold Coast botanist David Jinks.
“It’s a rainforest tree that exists in only two populations – both found on the Springbrook Plateau. There’s just 300 trees and that’s it,” Paul said. “On earth. It has a similar conservation significance to the Wollemi pine. It’s extremely rare.”
The Rare Treasures Workshop Series is being delivered by Healthy Waterways and Catchments with the support of the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and each session has an indoor and outdoor component.
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27 August at Currumbin Valley, 24 September at Austinville, 8 October at Numinbah Valley, 29 October at Upper Ormeau, 30 October at Labrador (with boat trip to Curlew Island) and 19 November at Springbrook. Workshops run 9.00am – 3.00pm and are free, but only suited to people aged 16+. Bookings via 07 5667 5972.