State: QLD | Hectares: 233,568 | IUCN Category: II | Partners: Bush Heritage Australia
The who's who of Australian scientific research have converged on Cravens Peak in outback Queensland to study some of the world's most remarkable and diverse desert plants and animals.
Cravens Peak is 135 kilometres southwest of Boulia in central west Queensland. The 233,600 hectare reserve lies on the northern edge of the Simpson Desert across the boundary of the Simpson-Strezlecki Dunefields and Channel Country bioregions.
It became a protected area after Bush Heritage Australia successfully applied for $1.8million from the Australian Government to purchase Cravens Peak Station from a pastoral company that used it to graze beef cattle.
The Royal Geographical Society of Queensland (RGSQ) brought together a multi-disciplinary team of 32 scientists, independent researchers and assistants from a number of educational and government institutions for the Cravens Peak Scientific Study. Each scientist was fascinated by a different aspect of the property and their projects ranged from studying bats and jumping spiders to looking at aquatic ecosystems and fossil fish.
The RGSQ's Doreen Worth says flooding and rain earlier this year gave the region's plants and animals a boost. "The scientists were absolutely delighted, they couldn't get there quick enough," she says.
Bush Heritage Australia collaborated with the RGSQ to build up their knowledge base and advance conservation of the reserve. A number of new species were identified during the expedition, which will boost species currently under-represented within the Australian National Insect Collection and the Queensland Herbarium.
The scientific study will provide Bush Heritage with onsite-inventories of the precious flora and fauna, and assist with ongoing monitoring and further site surveys and fieldwork. Analysis of the data will help Bush Heritage to develop management plans to secure the conservation of Cravens Peak.
Bush Heritage Chief Executive, Doug Humann, says protecting Australia's unique but threatened plants and animals in their natural habitat is a key goal of the organisation, and Cravens Peak is of particular importance because of the arid region's high concentration of biodiversity.
"The extraordinary mix of species made Cravens Peak a particularly important property for us to buy, not to mention the 17 years of scientific research that has already gone into helping to understand the property's ecosystems," Doug says.
Cravens Peak is a vast and awe inspiring landscape with a remarkable variety of life. The vibrant desert dunes, immense plains, worn and ancient mountain ranges, wetlands and channel country provide homes for an abundance of small mammals, reptiles and migratory birds.
The reserve contains 21 major plant communities and more than 220 species of animals. It supports the greatest diversity of reptiles of any desert in the world and provides habitat for 16 threatened species, including the endangered mulgara, a small carnivorous marsupial.
- Royal Geographical Society of Queensland (RGSQ)
- Bush Heritage Australia
- Australian National Insect Collection
- Queensland Herbarium