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Collaboration in the tropics: a successful far north Queensland field trip for the Seeds for Life crew

 

A recent Seeds for Life trip in November 2015 to far north Queensland reaped excellent on-ground rewards and established important relationships with Traditional Owners in the process.

Jason Halford (far right) collecting in Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park with Traditional Owners (L-R) Daniel Hobson, Colin Pascoe, Haston Bally and Lionel Hobson. (Photo: S. Bush)

Seeds for Life (SFL) collectors Jason Halford and Simon Bush have had an extremely successful collection trip to far north Queensland and Cape York Peninsula during November at the end of the dry season. A total of 41 collections were made along the journey, which enabled the Queensland partnership to realise its entire annual collecting targets for 2015-2016 in one trip.

Important relationships were forged during this trip with Traditional Owners of both the Daintree National Park (The Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation representing the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Bama People) and Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (Kuuku Ya’u Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC representing the Kuuku Ya’u People of Cape York). What initially began as a requirement of the QPWS scientific purposes permit to enable collection within jointly managed protected areas became a successful collaboration and the beginning of important and valuable relationships.

SFL collectors teamed up with Anthea Solomon to collect several species in the Daintree area including the vulnerable and highly restricted relic of the Casuarinaceae,Gymnostoma australis, the only species from this genus surviving in Australia, Eucalyptus pellita, an important species for the restoration of coastal range and lowland ecosystems, and Ficus copiosa, an important species to rainforest fauna.

The SFL crew joined up with Colin Pascoe, Lionel Hobson, Haston Bally and Daniel Hobson to collect in Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park. Hard work in the tropical heat paid off as 12 species were collected, including the currently poorly known and botanically under-collected herbs Aneilema papuanum and Plectranthus excelsus from granite boulderfields, the important bush tucker plant Buchanania arborescens, locally known as yilti, and the stunning rainforest emergent Ficus nodosa.


The rare Plectranthus excelsus (foreground) amongst boulders where it shares habitat with Aneilema papuanum. (Photo: J. Halford)
 
Collecting the extremely sweet and juicy bush tucker fruit of Buchanania arborescens. (Photo: J. Halford).

It is envisioned that future collaborations will continue between the Seeds for Life project and Traditional Owners of the Daintree and Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Parks, as well as further collaborations with Traditional Owners of other jointly managed north Queensland National Parks. Discussions with Kuuku Ya’u Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC are currently underway to establish formal training and a strategic collecting program that will encourage knowledge sharing and the protection of a unique and diverse flora into the future.

Gymnostoma australis lining Noah Creek, Daintree National Park. (Photo: J.Halford)

Left: The majestic Ficus nodosa. (Image J. Halford). Right: Ficus nodosa fruiting cauliflorously. (IPhoto: J. Halford).

 

Story prepared by Jason Halford, Senior Ecologist, Queensland Herbarium, Brisbane Botanic Gardens