For information to assist in referral, environmental assessment and compliance issues, refer to the
Listing Advice and/or Conservation Advice and
The Listing and/or Conservation Advice define the national ecological community and may include Key Diagnostic Characteristics,
Condition Thresholds, Priority Research and Conservation Actions and additional considerations.
In addition, for recovery planning, mitigation and conservation information, refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice.
|EPBC Act Listing Status||Listed as Critically Endangered|
|Date Effective||08 Oct 2002|
|Listing and Conservation Advices||
For ecological communities listed from 2013 onwards, there is no separate listing advice.
Instead, the advice from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee regarding the listing status of the ecological community and recommendation regarding a recovery plan are contained within the Conservation Advice.
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Mabi Forest (Complex Notophyll Vine Forest 5b) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2002l) [Listing Advice].
|Adopted/Made Recovery Plans||
Recovery Plan for Mabi Forest (Latch, P., 2008a) [Recovery Plan]..
|Policy Statements and other Information Sheets||Commonwealth Information Sheet on Mabi Forest (Department of the Environment and Heritage (AGDEH), 2004) [Information Sheet].|
|Federal Register of Legislative Instruments||Inclusion of ecological communities in the list of threatened ecological communities under section 181 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (12/10/2007) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007j) [Legislative Instrument].|
|Indicative Distribution Map(s)||Map of Mabi Forest (Complex Notophyll Vine Forest 5b) threatened ecological community (Environment Australia, 2003n) [Indicative Map].|
This map has been compiled from datasets with a range of scales and quality. Species or ecological community distributions included in this map are only indicative and not meant for local assessment. Planning or investment decisions at a local scale should seek some form of ground-truthing to confirm the existence of the species or ecological community at locations of interest. Such assessments should refer to the text of the Listing Advice, which is the legal entity protected under the EPBC Act.
For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.
The ecological community is called Mabi Forest (Complex Notophyll Vine Forest 5b).
The name Mabi Forest is widely used for this type of rainforest on the Atherton Tableland, the area where it is most widespread (see Distribution) (Latch 2008a). The term Mabi is derived from the local Aboriginal names mabi or mapi for Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi), one of the most conspicuous mammals found in this forest type (Latch 2008a).
The phrase 'Complex Notophyll Vine Forest 5b' is the technical name used by Tracey (1982) to describe/categorise this forest type, and is widely used in scientific literature referring to research in Mabi Forest.
For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.
Mabi Forest (Complex Notophyll Vine Forest Type 5b) was listed as Critically Endangered on 8 October 2002 under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth) (see Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2008a).
Complex Notophyll Vine Forest Type 5b (i.e. Mabi Forest) is also listed as Endangered in Queensland under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld) under the following two regional ecosystems (Latch 2008a):
- Regional Ecosystem 7.8.3: Complex semi-evergreen notophyll vine forest of uplands on basalt (Environmental Protection Agency 2007a), and
- Regional Ecosystem 7.3.37: complex semi-evergreen notophyll vine forest of uplands on alluvium (Environmental Protection Agency 2007b).
Thirteen plant and 12 animal species that occur in Mabi Forest are listed as threatened nationally or in Queensland (see Table below). Of the plant species, three are listed as nationally Vulnerable, two as Vulnerable in Queensland and ten as Rare in Queensland. Of the animal species, one is listed as Endangered nationally and in Queensland, one is listed as nationally Vulnerable, three are listed as Vulnerable in Queensland, and seven are listed as Rare in Queensland.
|Scientific name||Common name||Conservation status1|
|Alloxylon flammeuma,b,c,e||Flame Silky Oak, Red Silky Oak, Queensland Waratah, Tree Waratah||V||V|
|Alloxylon pinnatume||Pink Silky Oak||R|
|Argyrodendron sp. (Boonjie B.P. Hyland RFK 2139)a||R|
|Elaeocarpus coorangoolooa,b,c,e||Brown Quandong||R|
|Haplostichanthus submontanus subsp. sessiliflorus (previously called Haplostichanthus sp. (Topaz L.W. Jessup 520))a,b,c,e||Pink Leaf Haplostichanthus||R|
|Hodgkinsonia frutescensa||Atherton Turkey Bush||V|
|(Previously called Cryptolepis grayi)||R|
|Sauropus macranthusa,b,c,e||Atherton Sauropus, Red-fruited Sauropus||R||V|
|Accipiter novaehollandiaea||Grey Goshawk||R|
|Casuarius casuarius johnsoniia||Southern Cassowary*||E||E|
|Collocalia spodiopygiusa||White-rumped Swiftlet||R|
|Cyclopsitta diophthalma macleayanaa||Macleay's Fig-parrot||V|
|Dendrolagus lumholtzia,b||Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo||R|
|Lophoictinia isuraa||Square-tailed Kite||R|
|Murina floriumf||Tubed-nosed insectivorous bat||V|
|Ninox rufa queenslandicaa||Rufous Owl (southern subspecies)||V|
|Pseudochirops archeria,e||Green Ringtail Possum||R|
|Pteropus conspicillatusa||Spectacled Flying Fox||V|
Sources of information:
a. Latch (2008a)
b. Environmental Protection Agency (2007a)
c. Environmental Protection Agency (2007f)
d. Environmental Protection Agency (2007d)
e. Environmental Protection Agency (2007e)
f. Environmental Protection Agency (2008b)
1. E = Endangered; V = Vulnerable; R= Rare
2. Status under the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 2006 (Qld) (Queensland Government 2006)
3. Status under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth) (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2008b)
* The Southern Cassowary is now extinct from Mabi Forest (see Functionality).
The plant species Sauropus macranthus (Atherton Sauropus) is restricted to Mabi Forest (Atherton Shire Council 2005; Latch 2008a).
Dendrolagus lumholtzi (Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo), which is endemic to the Wet Tropics, occurs in relatively higher densities in Mabi Forest than in other rainforest types on the Atherton Tableland (Latch 2008a). The abundance of the tree-kangaroo in Mabi remnants has been attributed to factors such as the fertility of the basalt soils, which results in highly nutritious foliage of the trees and vines that comprise the majority of its diet (Newell 1999; Kanowski et al. 2001).
Two threatened bat species have been reported to occur on the Atherton Tableland (Environmental Protection Agency 2007d,e): Hipposideros diadema (Diadem Leaf-nosed Bat), which is Rare in Queensland, and Rhinolophus philippinensis (Greater Large-eared Horseshoe Bat), which is Endangered nationally and in Queensland. However the sightings of these species have a low level of spatial accuracy, and their occurrence in Mabi Forest has yet to be verified (Latch 2008b).
For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.
Mabi Forest (Complex Notophyll Vine Forest 5b) is characterised by an uneven tree canopy 2545 m tall, with many tree layers (Tracey 1982). Most trees have a deep crown, often extending down to between the top-third and top-half of the trunk (Tracey 1982). Canopy tree species mostly have notophyll-sized leaves (i.e. leaf length 7.512.5 cm or leaf area 20.2545 cm² ; see McDonald et al. 1984), although some have microphyll-sized leaves (i.e. length 2.57.5 cm; area 2.2520.25 cm²), while species with mesophyll leaves (i.e. length 12.525 cm; area 45182 cm²) are also prominent in the lower layers (Tracey 1982).
Other characteristic features of Mabi Forest include (Tracey 1982; Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; Latch 2008a):
- the presence of scattered, deciduous, emergent trees
- the presence of many semi-evergreen tree species in the canopy which tend to exhibit heavy leaf fall in times of moisture stress
- the presence of a well developed understorey layer, generally 13 m high, of medium to dense shrubs and scrambling vines
- the common occurrence of plank buttress roots on trees
- tree trunks generally exhibiting uneven stem diameters, and
- woody vines/lianes being generally conspicuous.
Mabi Forest is restricted to northern Queensland, occurring mainly in the Atherton Tableland in the Wet Tropics Bioregion, with small remnants near Cooktown in the Cape York Peninsula bioregion (see Distribution).
Mabi Forest occurs on moist foothills, uplands, and alluvial plains (Tracey 1982; Environmental Protection Agency 2007a, b), predominantly in volcanic landforms that date from the Pliocene to recent Pleistocene (Laffan 1988; Atherton Shire Council 2005).
Soils on which Mabi Forest occurs include basaltic krasnozems, euchrozem-krasnozems, prairie soil types with basalt boulders through the profile, and alluvial soils (Environmental Protection Agency 2007a, b; Latch 2008a). Krasnozem is the term given to structureless red material formed from deeply weathered soils (Atherton Shire Council 2005). The basaltic soils are usually highly fertile (high in phosphorus and calcium) (Environmental Protection Agency 2007e) and well drained.
On the Atherton Tableland, where most of Mabi Forest is located (see Distribution), the community occurs at altitudes of 700850 m above sea level (Latch 2008a). The remnants further north at Shipton's Flat (see Distribution) occur at an altitude of approximately 200300 m above sea level (Latch 2008b).
Areas where Mabi Forest occurs on the Atherton Tableland have an annual rainfall of 13001600 mm (Latch 2008a). This rainfall level falls at the drier end of rainfall in the region that can support Complex Notophyll Vine Forest (Tracey 1982; Irvine 2003). A rainfall level in the driest quarter of just over 80 mm (Graham 2006), coupled with Mabi Forest's association with porous volcanic soils (Irvine 2003), results in the community experiencing a seasonal moisture environment (Graham 2006). During drier parts of the year, canopy and understorey species in Mabi Forest are known to wilt (Graham 2006). The driest conditions are usually experienced in October (Irvine 2003).
The physiology, floristic composition, vegetation structure and distribution of Mabi Forest remnants are influenced by seasonal water stress levels, which are largely determined by factors such as soil, rainfall patterns, altitude and humidity (see Latch 2008a). Latch (2008a) notes that topography, drainage and position in the landscape also exert a small-scale influence which results in significant heterogeneity between sites containing remnants. Floristic composition is also considered likely to be affected by patch size, recent environmental conditions and local disturbance history (Turnbull 2007).
The high proportion of deciduous or semi-deciduous tree species in the canopy of Mabi Forest (see Description) reflects the seasonal moisture stress the community experiences (Latch 2008a) and results in seasonally high light conditions on the forest floor which is thought to allow the development of the forest's characteristic dense shrub layer (Tracey 1982; Irvine 2003). Graham (2006) also noted that inter-canopy gaps created by tree deaths during severe drought (see Threats) are quickly filled by species such as Dendrocnide moroides (Stinging Tree). Seeds of these species germinate under the higher light conditions to form dense impenetrable thickets that persist until the damaged upper canopies of trees expand (Graham 2006).
Many bird species and flying-foxes such as Pteropus conspicillatus (Spectacled Flying Fox) and P. scapulatus (Little Red Flying-fox), that use Mabi Forest, play an important role in pollination and seed dispersal (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001).
The epiphytic fern Asplenium nidus (Bird's-nest Fern) is reported to help mediate the climate in Mabi Forest and host invertebrate communities, while the epiphytic Drynaria rigidula (Basket Fern) is known to provide basking habitat for large pythons (see Cummings et al. 2006). Cummings and colleagues (2006) considered that all epiphytic ferns in the community are likely to help maintain forest humidity, as well as contributing to the forest's structure and biodiversity. These authors found that tree species from the families Meliaceae and Rutaceae, which are among the more common species in the forest, had the greatest frequency of epiphyte abundance (Cummings et al. 2006).
In riparian habitats, tree species such as Acmena smithii (Smith's Lillipilli), Agathis robusta (Smooth Bark kauri Pine), Elaeocarpus grandis (Blue Quandong, Silver Quandong, Blue Fig, White Quandong, Cooloon, Blueberry Ash, Blue Fig), Ficus congesta (Red Leaf Fig), Melaleuca viminalis (Drooping Bottlebrush, until recently called Callistemon viminalis), Mischocarpus lachnocarpus (Woolly-fruited Mischocarp), Syzygium australe (Creek Satinash) and S. sayeri may be present in Mabi Forest (Mabi Forest Working group 2001; Latch 2008b).
Mabi Forest has a multi-layered structure. The canopy is uneven, often comprising scattered emergent trees 4045 m tall, a main canopy 2540 m tall (but occasionally as low as 1420 m), a subcanopy usually 1220 m tall, a lower tree layer 68 m tall and a dense shrub layer up to 5 m tall (Irvine 2003). The ground layer, up to 1 m tall, contains herbs, vines, low shrubs and seedling trees (Irvine 2003).
Key tree species present in the canopy include Castanospermum australe (Black Bean), Melia azedarach (White Cedar) and Toona ciliata (Red Cedar) (Latch 2008a, b). Other characteristic canopy tree species (Tracey 1982; Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; Irvine 2004; Latch 2008b) include Aleurites rockinghamensis (Rockingham Candlenut), Alstonia scholaris (White Cheesewood, Milky Pine, Whitewood), Argyrodendron peralatum (Red Tulip Oak, Tulip Oak), Argyrodendron sp. (Boonjie Tulip Oak), Cryptocarya hypospodia (Northern Laurel), Diploglottis diphyllostegia (Northern Tamarind, referred to as D. cunninghamii in Tracey 1982), Ficus virens var. virens (White Fig), Ficus obliqua (Small-leaved Moreton Bay Fig, Small-leaved Fig), Flindersia brayleyana (Queensland Maple), Flindersia schottiana (Floppy-leaved Ash), Melicope bonwickii (previously called Euodia bonwickii), Myristica globosa subsp. muelleri (Native Nutmeg, previously called Myristica muelleri) and Terminalia sericocarpa (Damson, Sovereignwood).
Key subcanopy species include Acronychia acidula (Lemon Aspen, Lemon Wood) and Arytera divaricata (Corduroy Tamarind) (Latch 2008a). Other characteristic species in the subcanopy are Aglaia sapindina, Alangium villosum subsp. polyosmoides, Castanospora alphandii (Brown Tamarind), Daphnandra repandula (previously called D. dielsii), Dendrocnide photinophylla (Shiny-leaved Stinger) and Mallotus philippensis (Red Kamala) (Tracey 1982; Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; Irvine 2004; Latch 2008b).
The shrub layer is dominated by Codiaeum variegatum var. moluccanum (Moluccan Codiaeum), Dichapetalum papuanum (Papuan Dichapetalum), Hodgkinsonia frutescens (Atherton Turkey Bush), Phaleria octandra (Dwarf Phaleria) and Sauropus macranthus (Atherton Sauropus) (Tracey 1982; Mabi Forest Working Group 2001).
Characteristic vine species conspicuous in the vegetation include Calamus caryotoides (Fish Tail Lawyer Vine), Cissus antarctica (Native Grape), Cissus repens, Connarus conchocarpus, Elaeagnus triflora (Millaa Millaa Vine), Embelia australiana, Maclura cochinchinensis (Cockspur Vine), Melodinus australis (Brown Sugar Vine, Southern Melodinus), Ripogonum album (White Supplejack), Smilax australis (Austral Sarsaparilla, Barbed-wire Vine) and Tylophora benthamii (Coast Tylophora) (Tracey 1982; Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; Irvine 2004).
Epiphytes may be present on trees in Mabi Forest, and generally located high in the tree branches. Their density varies, and although typically not as common as epiphytes in adjacent rainforest types, they may be abundant in fragments in better condition or in fragments at the wetter end of the Mabi Forest's distribution (Latch 2008b). For example in Wongabel State Forest, which represents wetter Mabi Forest (Latch 2008b), Cummings and colleagues (2006) reported that up to 57% of mature trees supported epiphytic ferns, with an average of 1.7 (±0.3) ferns per tree. Ephiphytic species most often present in Mabi Forest are Asplenium australasicum (Keeled Crow's Nest Fern), A. nidus (Bird's-nest Fern), Drynaria rigidula (Basket Fern), Platycerium bifurcatum (Elkhorn, Elkhorn Fern) and P. superbum (Staghorn, Staghorn Fern) (Tracey 1982; Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; Cummings et al. 2006).
The ground layer in Mabi Forest includes ferns, grasses, sedges, and various forbs (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001). The main species (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001) include the ferns Adiantum hispidulum (Rough Maidenhair Fern) and Pellaea nana (Dwarf Sickle Fern), the grasses Cyrtococcum oxyphyllum (Pointed Leaf Rainforest Grass), Oplismenus aemulus (Long Leaf Rainforest Grass), O. burmannii (Burmann's Rainforest Grass) and O. hirtellus subsp. hirtellus (Hairy Leaf Rainforest grass), the sedge Cyperus mirus (Mirus Sedge), and gingers such as Alpinia caerulea (Blue Ginger) and A. modesta (Modest Ginger). Other frequent herbaceous species include Alocasia brisbanensis (Cunjevoi), Pollia crispata (Crispate Pollia), P. macrophylla (Large Leaf Pollia), Pseuderanthemum variabile (Floor Flower) and Urtica incisa (Tropical Stinging Nettle).
Over 550 native species of vascular plants have been recorded in Mabi Forest, with trees, shrubs and vines representing 90% of the species, and a limited number of ferns, herbs and epiphytes (Hopkins et al. 1996; QNPWS unpublished data, cited in Latch 2008a). Not all species are present at every site (Turnbull 2007), for example at a permanent monitoring plot in Mabi Forest (see Survey and Monitoring), a total of 114 species was recorded, of which tree, vine and shrub species represented 65%, 14% and 10% (respectively) of all vascular plant species at the site (Graham 2006).
Many moss species are also likely to be present in Mabi Forest vegetation (see mosses collected in the Atherton area, Appendix 1 of Ramsay & Cairns 2004).
Common vascular plant species associated with Mabi Forest are listed in Mabi Forest Working Group (2001).
Over 160 vertebrate animal species have been recorded in Mabi Forest, including 114 bird species known to reside, nest or forage in the vegetation, 24 mammal species, 16 reptile species and six frog species (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; Latch 2008a).
Of the 13 bird species endemic to the Wet Tropics Bioregion, 12 are found in Mabi Forest (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001). They include Orthonyx spaldingii (Chowchilla), Ptiloris victoriae (Victoria's Riflebird), Scenopoeetes dentirostris (Tooth-billed Bowerbird), Sericornis keri (Atherton Scrubwren) and Tyto multipunctata (Lesser Sooty Owl).
Mammals present in Mabi Forest include Antechinus flavipes (Yellow-footed Antechinus), Tachyglossus aculeatus (Short-beaked Echidna), the bandicoots Isoodon macrourus (Northern Brown Bandicoot) and Perameles nasuta (Long-nosed Bandicoot), five possums including Pseudochirops archeri (Green Ringtail Possum) and Pseudocheirus herbertensis (Herbert River Ringtail), three macropods including Dendrolagus lumholtzi (Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo) and five species of bats (Mabi Working Group 2001).
Reptile species recorded in Mabi Forest include two geckos, eight skinks and five snakes (Mabi Working Group 2001). They include species endemic to the Wet Tropics area such as Hypsilurus boydii (Boyd's Forest Dragon), Carlia rubrigularis (Red-throated Skink) and Saproscincus basiliscus (Environmental Protection Agency 2007g).
Mabi Forest is also rich in invertebrate species. For example Orr and Kitching (2003) found a very high representation of Macrolepidoptera in Mabi Forest on the Atherton Tableland, sampling 835 species in 443 genera. Although the samples were from mature forest, 4060 year old regrowth and early post-clearing vegetation, the three Mabi Forest states sampled were considered to represent "a single natural habitat" in terms of the Macrolepidoptera fauna (Orr & Kitching 2003).
The more common vertebrate animal species associated with Mabi Forest are listed in Mabi Forest Working Group (2001).
Mabi Forest is distinguished from other similar rainforest types largely by its dense shrub layer (Latch 2008a) and by the depth of its tree crowns (Tracey 1982). Mabi also has more deciduousness in upper tree layers than other mesophyll and notophyll vine forest types in the area (Latch 2008b).
Tracey (1982) reported that Mabi Forest grades into Complex Mesophyll Vine Forest Type 1b in the Malanda area, but that Forest Type 1b contains more aroid and fern epiphytes on the tree trunks, and more ground ferns and tree ferns. In the overlap areas, Mabi Forest can also be distinguished by the absence of trees such as Ceratopetalum succirubrum (North Queensland Coachwood; Satin Sycamore), Darlingia ferruginea (Brown Silky Oak, Rose Silky Oak), Syzygium gustavioides (Grey Satinash, Yellow Satinash, Water Gum, previously called Eugenia gustavioides), Flindersia bourjotiana (Bumpy Ash, Cudgerie, Northern Silver Ash), Alloxylon wickhamii (previously called Oreocallis wickhamii), Ficus crassipes (Round leaved Banana Fig) and F. pleurocarpa (Banana Fig, Figwood, Karpe) and the absence of shrubs such as Ardisia brevipedata and Atractocarpus hirtus (previously called Randia hirta). Mabi Forest occurs in locations with lower rainfall and fewer fogs than Complex Mesophyll Vine Forest Type 1b (Tracey 1982).
The climatic niche for Mabi Forest is reported to be different to other adjacent rainforest types on basalt soils. For example (Graham et al. 1995, cited in Latch 2008a) notes the following:
- Type 1b complex mesophyll vine forest (Regional Ecosystem 7.8.2; Environmental Protection Agency 2008a) occurs in wetter locations where seasonal moisture stress is lower, and
- Type 5a complex notophyll vine forest (Regional Ecosystem 7.8.4; Environmental Protection Agency 2008b) occurs at higher altitudes with both a cooler and wetter climate.
Mabi Forest occurs within a restricted geographical range primarily on the Atherton Tableland, approximately 50 km southwest of Cairns, in the Wet Tropics Bioregion, with several small remnant patches located at Shipton's Flat near Cooktown, in the Cape York Peninsula Bioregion (Department of Environment and Heritage 2004; Latch 2008a). On the Atherton Tableland, remnants occur between the towns of Atherton, Kairi, Yungaburra and Malanda (Latch 2008a).
Most of Mabi Forest occurs in Atherton Shire, although remnants are also located in the Eacham, Herberton and Cook local government areas (Latch 2008a). The community is associated with the Wet Tropics and Cape York Natural Resource Management regions (Accad et al. 2006).
The distribution of Mabi Forest (Complex Notophyll Vine Forest 5b) equates to the mapped distribution of Regional Ecosystem 7.8.3 (7.8.3a and 7.8.3b) (Environmental Protection Agency 2007a) and Regional Ecosystem 7.3.37 (Environmental Protection Agency 2007b) (see Latch 2008a).
Prior to European settlement, Mabi Forest covered a large continuous area of the Atherton Tableland north and west of Malanda (Environmental Protection Agency 2007a), extending from Yungaburra in the east, Kairi-Cullamungie Pocket (now separated by Tinaroo Dam) to the north, Tolga in the west and past Wongabel State Forest in the south (Latch 2008a).
Estimates of the original extent of Mabi Forest range from 19 785 ha (Accad et al. 2006) to 20 700 ha (Goosem 2003) to just under 24 000 ha (estimated from Latch 2008a).
The current extent of Mabi Forest is reported to be only 954.7 ha or 4% of the total pre-European extent (Latch 2008a). This comprises 77.4 ha at Shipton's Flat near Cooktown, 15.4 ha in the Ravenshoe region and 861.9 ha on the Atherton Tableland (Latch 2008a). Mabi Forest on alluvia (i.e. Regional Ecosystem 7.3.37) has been almost totally cleared, with less than 8 ha remaining in three very small fragments (Environmental Protection Agency 2007b; Latch 2008a).
On the Atherton Tableland, where the pre-clearing extent of Mabi Forest is estimated to be 19 806 ha, only 862 ha (4.3%) remain (Latch 2008a).
The total area of remnant Mabi Forest remained constant between 1997 and 2003 (see Accad et al. 2006).
Because the original area of occupancy of Mabi Forest is around 20 000 ha (see Distribution), the ecological community cannot be considered naturally rare or restricted.
Mabi Forest now occurs as numerous small and isolated patches throughout the landscape (Latch 2008a). Latch (2008a) notes that 62 fragments have been identified and mapped, the smallest less than 0.5 ha. Only two remnant patches are greater than 200 ha in size: a 271 ha remnant at Curtain Fig and a 267 ha remnant at Wongabel State Forest. Together, these two remnants represent 56% of the current total extent of Mabi Forest. Although large in area, the remnant in Wongabel State Forest is severely fragmented internally due to commercial forestry operations (Latch 2008a).
On the Atherton Tableland, 73% of all Mabi Forest fragments are less than 5 ha in size (Latch 2008a).
When considering size viability for reserve areas, Laurance (1991) concluded that isolated areas of Complex Notophyll Vine Forest on the Atherton Tableland less than 350650 ha in area could be expected to experience "relatively striking changes" in structure and floristic composition arising from edge-related disturbance, while isolated areas less than 20004000 ha could also be subject to elevated disturbance and vegetation change. Laurance (1991) does not specify whether the Complex Notophyll Vine Forest was Mabi Forest.
Remnants of Mabi Forest like that at the 25.4 ha Hallorans Hill Conservation Park (Environmental Protection Agency 2007f) and the 263 ha remnant at Wongabel State Forest (Environmental Protection Agency 2007c) are considered too small to support viable populations of Hypsiprymnodon moschatus (Musky Rat-kangaroo) and Casuarius casuarius johnsonii (Southern Cassowary) (Environmental Protection Agency 2007d, g). Both these species are now locally extinct in Mabi Forest (see Functionality).
Compared with its original continuous distribution (see Distribution), Mabi Forest today is considered highly fragmented (Environmental Protection Agency 2007a,b) and occurs as small, isolated patches in areas cleared primarily for agriculture (see Latch 2008a).
Mabi Forest remnants generally have a poor size to shape ratio and hence a high edge-affected boundary (Goosem 2003).
Two animal species known to be important in dispersing the seeds of rainforest trees-Hypsiprymnodon moschatus (Musky Rat-kangaroo) and Casuarius casuarius johnsonii (Southern Cassowary)-are both now locally extinct in Mabi Forest (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; Latch 2008a; Environmental Protection Agency 2007g). This loss has been attributed to the small size of the Mabi Forest remnant patches and their relatively large distance from any major blocks of rainforest (Goosem 2003; Latch 2008a).
The Southern Cassowary is known to have a significant role in dispersing small (volume < 1 cm³) to large (volume > 8 cm³) seeds in rainforests in the Wet Tropics (Stocker & Irvine 1983). They are reported to disperse seeds from a broad range of plants, including large-seeded species, over average distances of hundreds of metres from parent trees (Westcott et al. 2005). Westcott and colleagues (2005) reported that while dispersal over distances of up to 1.2 km in a single displacement event does not occur frequently, Cassowaries may be able to transport seeds up to 5.4 km. They noted that such long distance movement is probably more frequent in birds moving between rainforest fragments.
Because of Southern Cassowaries' scale of movement and ability to disperse seeds, Westcott and colleagues (2005) concluded the bird has a significant role in dispersing seed (especially those of large seeded species) between populations of plant species and into new or regenerating areas. They also concluded that loss of Southern Cassowaries from part of their range could result in relatively rapid selection for changes in fruit dimensions in those areas, as well as changes in population level dynamics of plant species, particularly for large-seeded species (Westcott et al. 2005). The loss of the Southern Cassowary from Mabi Forest remnants may thus have significant adverse impacts on the ecology of the community.
Latch (2008a) notes that some of the larger remnants of Mabi Forest may retain a moderate to high level of ecological integrity, while other fragments may exist in lower condition states.
Mabi Forest was originally identified and mapped (map unit 5b) by Tracey and Webb (1975) and described (Type 5b) by Tracey (1982).
Subsequent survey and/or mapping of the ecological community has been carried out as follows (Latch 2008a):
- Environmental Protection Agency (2007a,b) as regional ecosystems 7.8.3 and 7.3.37,
- Graham and colleagues (1995) a comprehensive survey and 1:50 000 map of Mabi Forest fragments, and
- Stanton and Stanton (2005) 1:50 000 map of Mabi Forest (that was subsequently incorporated into the updated Wet Tropics Regional Ecosystem mapping by the Queensland Herbarium).
Stanton and Fell (2005) noted that their forest Type 68 on the southern part of Cape York Peninsula may be an equivalent of rainforest Type 5b of Tracey (1982). Latch (2008b) advises that forest Type 68 has floristic affinities with other regional ecosystems (RE 3.8.2a and RE 3.8.1) which cover Mabi Forest-like habitat at Shipton's Flat, but is different to the typical Mabi Forest located on the Atherton Tableland.
The Environmental Protection Agency is undertaking a project 'Conservation Assessment of Mabi Forest fragments and Priorities for Action' in which vegetation surveys of Mabi Forest fragments are being undertaken (Latch 2008b). The project aims to assess current regional ecosystem mapping of remnant Mabi Forest, describe the structure and floristic composition of remnant Mabi Forest and identify and describe variation in remnant Mabi Forest. This information will be used to establish future priority conservation actions (Latch 2008b).
Plot 11 of the CSIRO permanent monitoring plots in north Queensland contains Mabi Forest (Graham 2006). Located in Curtin Fig National Park on the Atherton Tableland, the plot is 0.5 ha in area and is thought to have been subject to some selective logging prior to the national park being declared. Plants within it have been measured 11 times since the plot was established in March 1976. The monitoring has covered the diameter and height of all trees >= 10 cm diameter, tree recruitment and death, and semi-quantitative data on understorey species composition within subplots (Graham 2006).
Mabi forest was logged for timber species such as Toona australis (Red Cedar) and other high quality rainforest trees beginning in the 1870s (see Latch 2008a). It was then subject to extensive clearing for agriculture from the 1900s, including for dairy, maize and tobacco farming, with further clearing occurring after WW1 for soldier settlement schemes (see Latch 2008a). About 80% of the forest is estimated to have been cleared by the 1920s (see Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; Winter et al. 1987). Clearing for agricultural development continued until the late 1990s when the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld) was passed to protect the forest type as an 'Endangered' regional ecosystem (Latch 2008a).
The main threat to Mabi Forest is clearing and fragmentation, and associated impacts including the loss of functionally important species (Threatened Species Scientific Committee 2002; Latch 2008a). Other key threats include incompatible land use management in the landscape in which forest remnants are located, weed invasion and stream bank erosion (Atherton Shire Council 2005; Latch 2008a). Feral and domestic animals, roads and traffic also pose a threat to key animal species associated with Mabi Forest (Latch 2008a).
Clearing and Fragmentation
Because of extensive past clearing (see Distribution), Mabi Forest now occurs as 62 remnant patches of various sizes, shapes, connectivity and condition within a modified agricultural landscape (Latch 2008a). In addition, some Mabi Forest remnants are fragmented internally by roads and clearings. For example, several large cleared areas that support commercial forestry operations occur within Wongabel State Forest and dramatically increase the length of forest edge and vulnerability to edge effects (Latch 2008a). Latch (2008a) notes that fragmentation of Mabi Forest has led to a reduction in species abundance and diversity and increased isolation of populations leading to reduced opportunities for re-colonisation. Fragmentation also increases the vulnerability of remnant patches to disturbances (including fire encroachment from adjacent agricultural areas), stochastic events and edge-related effects including invasion by weeds and domestic and feral animals (Latch 2008a).
Latch (2008a) noted that Mabi Forest remnants have a total of 110 km of edge-affected boundary. Such edge effects are known to significantly influence the structure, floristic composition and microclimate of remnants (Laurance 1991, 1997). On the Atherton Tableland, major changes in plant species composition have been found to occur over distances of up to 200 m from the edge of Complex Notophyll Vine Forest remnants, and detectable changes up to a distance of 500 m from edges (Laurance 1991). Abrupt edges and high edge-to-area ratios also appear to make fragmented rainforests very susceptible to recurring damage from cyclones or prevailing winds (Laurance 1991, 1997).
Fragmentation also adversely impacts fauna that are an integral part of Mabi Forest ecology. For example, isolation of remnants restricts the ability of birds and mammals to pollinate flowers and disperse seed, and many seeds are eaten by native and introduced seed predators such as the Rattus rattus (Black Rat) (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001). This is considered likely to have adverse long-term impacts on the genetic variability of some plant species and to have reduced their ability to resist extinction in all but the largest fragments (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001).
Within small remnants, individual animal species may be at risk of disappearing from the forest due to inbreeding which results in reduced genetic vigour, and animals may be more likely to succumb to random events such as disease or cyclonic disturbance (Atherton Shire Council 2005). Small remnants also may not provide all the habitat for year-round survival and hence species may be unable to live and/or breed there (Atherton Shire Council 2005).
Sumner and colleagues (1999) concluded that the skink Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae (Prickly Forest Skink, Prickly Skink) in Complex Notophyll Vine Forest has been affected by fragmentation. Skink abundance was significantly greater in continuous forest than in forest fragments; skink abundance and the availability of decaying logs that provide habitat for the species increased with fragment areas; fragments contained a smaller proportion of adult skinks than continuous forest; and individual skinks in fragments were smaller on average than those in continuous forest. Sumner and colleagues (1999) hypothesised the demographic and morphological changes may be caused by alterations in habitat and prey availability and/or microclimatic changes associated with edge effects. Although Sumner and colleagues (1999) do not say whether the Complex Notophyll Vine Forest was Mabi Forest, Gnypetoscincus queenslandiae is present in the latter (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001).
Latch (2008a) summarises data from a number of other studies on the effects of rainforest fragmentation on arboreal mammals on the Atherton Tableland. These studies indicate that arboreal mammal populations are influenced by the size of habitat fragments and by the surrounding modified landscape, and that there is a strong gradient in proneness to extinction. Hemibelideus lemuroides (Lemuroid Ringtail Possum) appears especially sensitive to habitat disturbance and rapidly declines in fragmented forest. Pseudocheirus herbertensis (Herbert River Ringtail Possum) and Dendrolagus lumholtzi (Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo) show intermediate responses to fragmentation, whilst Trichosurus vulpecula (Coppery Brushtail Possum) and Pseudochirops archeri (Green Ringtail Possum) appear least vulnerable to fragmentation (see Latch 2008a).
The location of Mabi Forest remnants in a landscape which is a matrix of agricultural land, roads and urban settlement, together with a long edge-affected boundary, can also expose some native animal species to road and traffic impacts, increase their exposure to predators such as dogs or be a barrier to movement between remnants (Newell 1999; Tree Kangaroo and Mammal Group 2000; Latch 2008a).
Clearing and fragmentation have also resulted in the local extinction of animal species such as Hypsiprymnodon moschatus (Musky Rat-kangaroo) and Casuarius casuarius johnsonii (Southern Cassowary) which probably have an important function in dispersing the seeds of many Mabi Forest tree species (see Functionality).
Weed species that invade fragments of Mabi Forest threaten their structure and ecological integrity (see Latch 2008a). Fragments of the community are highly vulnerable to ongoing weed invasion because of their small size and location within or close to agricultural and urban areas which can act as significant weed sources (Latch 2008a). Exotic species are also able to establish in inter-canopy gaps created by tree deaths in Mabi Forest resulting from drought conditions (Graham 2006).
Almost 80 weed species, comprising 14% of vascular species recorded, have been recorded in Mabi Forest on the Atherton Tableland (see Latch 2008a). They include garden escapes that smother and choke remnants of the forest (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; Environmental Protection Agency 2007a).
Weed species reported to be a particular problem in Mabi Forest are shown in the table below. Latch (2008a) reported that the weed species Anredera cordifolia (Madeira Vine), Aristolochia elegans (Dutchman's Pipe), Macfadyena unguis-cati (Cat's Claw Vine) and Turbina corymbosa (Turbina Vine) pose the greatest threat to the ecological values of Mabi Forest.
Of the species shown in the table below, Elephantopus mollis (Tobacco Weed), Tithonia diversifolia (Japanese Sunflower) and Turbina corymbosa (Turbina Vine) are among the top 30 weed species in the Wet Tropics Bioregion (Werren 2001). The latter two species, Megathyrsus maximus (Guinea Grass) and Solanum seaforthianum (Brazilian Night-shade) are among the 25 weed species considered to pose the greatest environmental risk in this Bioregion, while Lantana camara (Lantana) is a weed of national significance (Werren 2001).
|Anredera cordifolia1,2||Madeira Vine|
|Aristolochia elegans1||Dutchman's Pipe|
|Elephantopus mollis4||Tobacco Weed|
|Macfadyena unguis-cati1||Cat's Claw Vine|
|Megathyrsus maximus (previously called Panicum maximum)1,4||Guinea Grass|
|Montanoa hibiscifolium2,4||Anzac Weed|
|Rivina humilis1,4||Coral Berry|
|Solanum mauritianum4||Wild Tobacco|
|Solanum seaforthianum4||Brazilian Night-shade|
|Tithonia diversifolia1,2,4||Japanese Sunflower|
|Turbina corymbosa1,2,3,4||Turbina Vine|
Source of information:
1. Latch (2008a)
2. Mabi Forest Working Group (2001)
3. Environmental Protection Agency (2007a)
4. Atherton Shire Council (2005)
Different weed species impact different parts of Mabi Forest remnants. For example, Tithonia diversifolia (Japanese Sunflower) chokes forest margins, while the shade tolerant Rivina humilis (Coral Berry) invades the understorey and displaces native shrubs (Latch 2008a). Megathyrsus maximus (Guinea Grass) grows in thick swards along disturbed edges (such as the margins of roads) and encroaches on rainforest edges (Latch 2008a). Many of the weed species in the table above are common where disturbance (including fire) has occurred near roadsides (Atherton Shire Council 2005).
Research in Mabi Forest (Westcott 2006) has shown that exotic weed species are functionally distinct from the native flora and occupy distinct regeneration niches. Functional traits include seed mass, dispersal mechanisms, age to first reproduction, light environment at first reproduction, leaf area and maximum height (Wells 2004). The functional diversity of exotic species in disturbed habitats increases while that of native species decreases. In disturbed habitats, the regeneration ability of exotics appears "less constrained" than the predominantly shade tolerant native species (Westcott 2006).
Incompatible land use management
Remnants of Mabi Forest may experience ongoing degradation from the impacts of adjacent land uses. For example, Latch (2008a) noted that because many small, unfenced remnants are grazed at their edges or used as shelter by stock, natural recruitment and regeneration of the understorey is prevented because of trampling impacts.
Where fragments are surrounded by grassy agricultural areas/pastures and landholders burn stubble or other refuse from crops, the potential for fire to enter Mabi Forest fragments is very high, especially in the late dry season (Latch 2008a). Some fragments are reported to show signs of being repeatedly impacted by fire, resulting in weed encroachment as the fire-sensitive forest boundary is pushed back (Atherton Shire Council 2005).
Clearing or property management activities may result in large boulders and other debris being pushed up against the edges of forest fragments, and so inhibit natural regeneration and/or rehabilitation activities (Latch 2008a). Mabi Forest on some state-owned land such as unformed road reserves is also reported to be used informally by adjoining land owners for stock grazing and cropping (see Latch 2008a).
Feral and Domestic Animals
Dogs are known to be a major source of mortality for Dendrolagus lumholtzi (Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo) (Tree Kangaroo and Mammal Group 2000), which is relatively common in Mabi Forest (see Legal Status). When dispersing between isolated remnants of forest, tree-kangaroos are particularly vulnerable to being attacked by roaming Canis familiaris (wild dogs) and domestic dogs (Latch 2008a).
Felix catus (feral cats), Sus scrofa (feral pigs) and Bufo marinus (cane toads) have also been recorded in Mabi Forest fragments (e.g. Atherton Shire Council 2005); their impact on wildlife is not known (Latch 2008a).
Roads and Traffic
Major roads which dissect some Mabi Forest fragments can cause substantial mortality to associated wildlife (Latch 2008a). For example, Dendrolagus lumholtzi (Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo) is known to be killed on roads in the Atherton Tableland, with the road-killed animals usually juvenile or sub-adult males (Newell 1999). Newell (1999) noted young males move frequently between forest patches, and must come to the ground to do so. Many road fatalities are recorded (Tree Kangaroo and Mammal Group 2000). Five problem spots for tree-kangaroo mortalities have been identified on the Atherton Tableland (Tree Kangaroo and Mammal Group 2000; Izumi 2001, cited in Latch 2008a).
Stream Bank Erosion
Major watercourses such as the Barron River and Peterson Creek flow through Mabi Forest on the Atherton Tableland (Latch 2008a). Clearing of riparian vegetation has contributed to stream bank erosion, slumping and undercutting in some areas (e.g. Picnic Crossing Reserve, Atherton Shire Council 2005). In the Picnic Crossing area, some bank sections of the Barron River are highly degraded, with levels of native plant cover greatly reduced and intervening areas covered by weeds such as Megathyrsus maximus (Guinea Grass) and Caesalpinia decapetala (Asian Wait-a-while) (Atherton Shire Council 2005).
Modelling in the Wet Tropics region (Hilbert et al. 2001) suggests that changes in temperature and rainfall associated with climate change are likely to adversely affect Complex Notophyll Vine Forest (which includes Mabi Forest) as well as other rainforest types in the future. This work indicates that climate change will mostly affect ecosystem function and plant demographic processes in the next 50100 years, and cause significant shifts in the extent and spatial distribution of forest types in the longer-term.
Catastrophic disturbances have affected the life history attributes and demographic characteristics of canopy species in Mabi Forest in the past, and are thought to include drought, fire and cyclones (Graham 2006). Evidence Graham (2006) cited to support the effect of such disturbances on a permanent monitoring site on the Atherton Tableland (see Survey and Monitoring) was "near-synchronous mortality" of Aleurites rockinghamensis (Rockingham Candlenut) trees in the area.
Tropical cyclones are known to pose a potential catastrophic threat to rainforests in north Queensland (e.g. see Webb 1958; Unwin et al. 1988; Laurance 1991) and can cause significant disturbance (e.g. Unwin et al. 1988) including in Mabi Forest (described below). Turton and Dale (2007) described the general impact of tropical cyclones as follows:
"Severe cyclones cause widespread defoliation of rainforest canopy trees, removal of vines and epiphytes, along with the breakage of crown stems and associated tree falls. These catastrophic impacts typically result in significant changes in forest microclimates in the understorey and canopy, and complex vegetation and faunal responses to newly created light, temperature and humidity regimes. Cyclonic disturbance has also been shown to accelerate invasion by exotic tree, vine and grass species leading to a decline in biodiversity of native plant species in some forest regions." (Turton & Dale 2007)
While cyclone-damaged forests can recover rapidly from vegetative regrowth (e.g. see Unwin et al. 1988), the increased threat of fires (e.g. see Unwin et al. 1988) and weed invasion to disturbed areas places already stressed habitat at further risk of degradation (Latch 2008a).
Highly fragmented ecosystems like Mabi Forest are particularly vulnerable to the destructive forces of a severe cyclone because of their abrupt boundaries and high edge-to-area ratios (Latch 2008a). In March 2006, Category 3 status Tropical Cyclone Larry (see Davidson 2006) significantly affected Mabi Forest on the Atherton Tableland (Turton & Dale 2007; McCarthy 2006). McCarthy (2006) reported that in four Mabi Forest remnants ranging in size from 16.4 ha to 260 ha, almost 90% of trees in the plots sampled experienced some type of damage, ranging from total uprooting or snapping of trunks to light limb damage. Only 10% of trees had no visible damage. McCarthy (2006) found no relationship between either the diameter at breast height of trees or tree height and cyclone damage levels, and concluded that functional traits of trees in Mabi Forest, such as wood density or life history characteristics (rather than tree size) may play a role in determining the response of individual trees to cyclonic wind disturbance.
Turton and Dale (2007) noted the rate and extent of recovery from cyclone damage would depend on the severity of the structural damage to the forest and the size of the forest affected. Smaller rainforest patches, including patches of Mabi Forest, which suffered more damage than larger forest patches in Tropical Cyclone Larry, are considered to have less resilience to recover (Tucker et al. 2006; Turton & Dale 2007). Turton and Dale (2007) commented that loss of canopy cover in these forests (including Mabi Forest) may allow invasion of weed species and "could result in major disruptions to ecological processes including succession". They considered natural recovery unlikely in some instances.
Since the CSIRO permanent monitoring plot in Mabi Forest (see Survey and Monitoring) was established on the Atherton Tableland in 1976, mortality and structural damage associated with a drought from 199193 has been recorded (Tropical Forest Research Centre 2005; Graham 2006). This included high mortality of trees (including secondary, late secondary and primary trees) leading to a dramatic decrease in total tree basal area (Tropical Forest Research Centre 2005; Graham 2006). Many trees that survived the drought suffered structural damage such as the ends of branches dying back by several metres (e.g. Castanospermum australe, Black Bean). There was also a substantial decrease in the leaf area index of the canopy and understorey, with the dominant shrub Hodgkinsonia frutescens (Atherton Turkey Bush) "virtually leafless" during later stages of the drought (Graham 2006).
The Recovery Plan for Mabi Forest (Latch 2008a) provides a framework for protection of the ecological community. The overall objective of the plan is "To protect and rehabilitate Mabi Forest and, where possible, expand Mabi Forest into adjacent areas through an integrated program of habitat protection, on-ground management, rehabilitation, research and public involvement". Specific objectives for the 5 year plan include:
- Identify and evaluate the extent and quality of Mabi Forest and component species.
- Enhance planning, management and conservation of Mabi Forest.
- Reduce threats to, and improve ecological condition of fragments ensuring a landscape approach to Mabi Forest conservation.
- Implement a monitoring and research program to inform conservation management decisions.
- Develop public awareness of, and facilitate community participation in Mabi Forest recovery.
The natural resource management regional plan for the Wet Tropics (FNQ NRM Ltd and Rainforest CRC 2004) includes the following Management Action Target:
- Increase the area of Mabi Forest communities protected and managed for conservation purposes by 2008.
The management plan for Picnic Crossing Reserve (Atherton Shire Council 2005) contains two management objectives for Mabi Forest: to increase the extent of the forest habitat in the Reserve, and to encourage its natural regeneration there.
The Baron River Catchment Management Plan 2004 (Baron River Integrated Catchment Management Association 2004) contains no specific objectives in relation to Mabi Forest, but provides an overall framework for off-reserve land management that would assist in addressing some of the land management issues on the Atherton Tableland identified as a threat (Latch 2008a; see also Incompatible land use management under Threats).
The main on-ground threat abatement and recovery actions specified for Mabi Forest include:
- protecting existing remnants, especially on private land (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; FNQ NRM Ltd and Rainforest CRC 2004; Latch 2008a),
- rehabilitating disturbed areas (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; Latch 2008a),
- establishing buffers around remnants and reducing their edge effects (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001),
- improving the connectivity between isolated remnants at both local and landscape scales (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; Latch 2008a), and
- weed control (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; Atherton Shire Council 2005; Latch 2008a).
Latch (2008a) noted that restoration of remnant Mabi Forest and key corridors will enhance effort in the longer term to restore threatened ecological processes such as seed dispersal, through re-establishment of key fruit-eating animals, such as Casuarius casuarius johnsonii (Southern Cassowary) which has been lost from the community due to fragmentation (see Functionality). Kanowski and colleagues (2003) note the importance of improving the connectivity between rainforest areas that provide habitat for animals such as Dendrolagus lumholtzi (Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo) to allow recolonisation of remnants after catastrophes such as droughts and cyclones as well as to maintain genetic diversity (see Bowyer et al. 2002).
Rainforest rehabilitation and restoration methods, and lists of vascular plant species appropriate for such activities in Mabi Forest, are provided in Goosem and Tucker (1995). Cummings et al. (2006) suggest it may be important to introduce epiphytic ferns characteristic of Mabi Forest (see Description) during restoration activities, initially focussing on tree species from the plant families Meliaceae and Rutaceae. They suggested priority should be given initially to introducing Asplenium australasicum and Drynaria rigidula once canopy closure has occurred in restoration plantings. They also suggest the presence of large ephiphytes on about half the trees (once trees are > 20 m in height) in such plantings would be one measure of restoration success.
Many community groups, government agencies and private landholders are active in restoring degraded remnant areas and corridors. For example, since 1998 the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service together with the community tree planting group Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands Inc. (TREAT) and landholders have been creating a wildlife corridor along Peterson Creek between the isolated Lake Eacham Section of Crater Lakes National Park and Curtain Fig National Park, an area once covered by Mabi Forest (Latch 2008b; see also Lanskey and Robertson 2007, Threatened Species Network 2007). To date some 50 000 trees have been planted. Many areas along the Barron River flowing through Mabi Forest are also being restored through the Green Corridor Project. Managed by Barron River Integrated Management Association, this large project involves revegetation and remediation of approximately 140 km of the Barron River from the upper catchment on the Atherton Tablelands to the river mouth at Cairns (Latch 2008b).
Other on-ground threat abatement activities recommended for Mabi Forest include:
- discouraging selective logging in order to maintain the ecological integrity of remnant and regrowth fragments (Latch 2008a),
- protecting the edges of remnants from stubble fires that come from adjoining paddocks (Atherton Shire Council 2005),
- control of feral and domestic animals (Atherton Shire Council 2005; Latch 2008a), and
- minimising the impacts of roads and vehicles on Mabi Forest wildlife (Latch 2008a).
A range of planning, information and other measures has also been recommended to improve the protection and management of Mabi Forest, including the following:
- detailed mapping of remnant areas (FNQ NRM Ltd and Rainforest CRC 2004; Latch 2008a),
- undertaking biological surveys of remnants to prioritise protection and management (Latch 2008a),
- ensuring that regional planning, management and development assessment appropriately address the protection of Mabi Forest (Latch 2008a),
- putting in place appropriate management arrangements with relevant agencies to ensure protection of remnants on public land (FNQ NRM Ltd and Rainforest CRC 2004),
- developing and implementing site-specific management plans for remnants (Latch 2008a),
- developing and implementing land management practices on private land that are compatible with the recovery of Mabi Forest and agricultural sustainability (Latch 2008a), and
- supporting community and landholder involvement in recovery actions (FNQ NRM Ltd and Rainforest CRC 2004; Latch 2008a).
Latch (2008a) also highlighted the need to monitor the condition and biodiversity of key Mabi Forest sites biannually, and to monitor rehabilitated areas in order to assess the effectiveness of restoring ecological processes in the community.
About 58% of the extent of Mabi Forest on the Atherton Tableland has some form of protection tenure (national park, forest reserve, state forest, or local government managed reserve) while about 35% lies within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (Latch 2008a). About 185 ha of Mabi Forest is located in national parks (Latch 2008a).
Across its distribution Mabi Forest remnants occur within the following reserve areas:
- Curtain Fig Forest Reserve (Environmental Protection Agency 2007a)
- Curtain Fig National Park (Environmental Protection Agency 2007a)
- Gadgarra Forest Reserve (Environmental Protection Agency 2007a)
- Hallorans Hill Conservation Park (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; Environmental Protection Agency 2007a,f)
- Herberton Range State Forest (Environmental Protection Agency 2007a; Latch 2008b)
- Koombooloomba Forest Reserve (Environmental Protection Agency 2007a)
- Millstream Falls National Park (Latch 2008b)
- Monkhouse Timber Reserve (Latch 2008b)
- Picnic Crossing Reserve (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001)
- Tolga Scrub Reserve (Mabi Forest Working Group 2001)
- Tully Falls National Park (Environmental Protection Agency 2007a)
- Yungaburra National Park (Environmental Protection Agency 2007a)
- Wongabel State Forest ( Environmental Protection Agency 2007c).
One remnant of Mabi Forest on private land, 33 ha in size, is also protected as a nature refuge (Environmental Protection Agency 2003).
The management plan for Picnic Crossing Reserve (Atherton Shire Council 2005) includes specific objectives for the management of Mabi Forest (see Conservation Advice).
The following four community groups are reported to be active in the recovery of Mabi Forest.
TREAT (Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands Inc.)
TREAT activities include planting native rainforest trees, with a major focus on rehabilitating and revegetating areas of Mabi Forest, monitoring wildlife populations, studying vegetation changes and providing information and education (Grundon et al. 2005; Australian Government Biodiversity Facilitator 2006; TREAT 2007; Australian Government NRM Team 2008).
Tree-Kangaroo and Mammal Group
The Tree-kangaroo and Mammal Group has conducted studies with local landholders to get a better understanding of the natural habitat of the tree-kangaroo and where it is located, including on private property (Anon 2003; see also: Mabi Forest Working Group 2001; FNQ NRM Ltd and Rainforest CRC 2004).
Barron River Catchment Management Association
The Barron River Catchment Management Association has prepared a catchment management plan for the Barron River (see Conservation Advice), and carries out educational activities and projects including revegetation work (see Barron River Integrated Catchment Management Association 2004, 2005a, b; Atherton Shire Council 2005).
Tolga Bat Rescue and Research Inc
The Tolga Bat Rescue and Research group received an NHT grant in 200304 which included activities to abate threats to Mabi Forest habitat in Tolga Scrub (Threatened Species Network 2003).
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Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Mabi Forest (Complex Notophyll Vine Forest 5b) in Community and Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed 2014-03-14T09:44:43EST.