Mabi Restoration

Mabi Forest is a unique forest community, differing from other rainforest types by the composition of various plants and canopy heights. These forests are only found on the Atherton Tablelands, on fertile basalt soils in areas where the annual rainfall averages between 1300 to1600mm. They are now heavily fragmented and critically endangered with less than 3% of the original cover remaining.  Curtain Fig National Park and Wongabel State Forest are the largest Mabi remnants.

“Mabi” or “Mapi” is a local indigenous name for the tree kangaroo. The Lumholtz’s tree-kangaroo is one of the rare species inhabiting Mabi forest. Other rare species found in Mabi forest include the greater large-eared horseshoe bat, the diadem leaf nosed bat, the Herbert River ringtail possum, the green ringtail possum, and the lemuroid ringtail possum. Many other mammals, some unique reptiles and over 130 species of birds inhabit Mabi forest. Many of these species are endemic to (only occur in) the Wet Tropics.

Mabi forest remnants are being severely degraded through edge effects and invasive weeds, like Turbina vine, which can cover the tallest rainforest trees.

Barron River Catchment Management Association Inc. (aka Barron Catchment Care) has been working on many projects over the last couple of decades to restore as much of the cleared and degraded former Mabi forest land as possible. Restoration in areas adjacent to remnants increases the size of Mabi Forests with better resilience to severe weather events and allowing animals with large habitat requirements to return to these forests, such as the Southern Cassowary and the Musky rat kangaroo.

Our aim is to increase area size as well as to connect fragments to allow for species movement, which will increase the resilience of animal species through genetic flow (when animals from one population breed with animals from another population, increasing genetic variation) and allows for repopulation of locally extinct species. Plant species also benefit from increased movement between areas through seed dispersal and cross pollination.

Recent projects revegetated 1.5 ha with Mabi species at a cleared site, adjacent to Wongabel State Forest. Another Barron Catchment Care project managed highly invasive Turbina vine on a private property with Mabi forest remnants, adjacent to Curtain Fig Tree National Park, where the largest remaining fragment of Mabi forest is found.

Three new projects have been secured to restore 2 more hectares of Mabi forest at Wongabel. The largest project allows us to get 1ha of land cleared of guinea grass, lantana, tobacco bush and other invasive weeds, prepared for planting and maintained to ensure highest survival rates of the planted trees. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program.

A community planting in cooperation with TREAT will be held early in the coming wet season. Everyone is welcome to lend a hand and put some trees in the well prepared ground. Please keep an eye out for the planting schedule on TREAT’s website, newsletter or facebook page.

See full article in What’On & Where to Go December 2022 issue