In it together

November 6th, 2013

Donations in support of our projects in Ecuador and Sumatra are contributing to global conservation efforts to combat rainforest deforestation

Although rainforests only cover 6% of the Earth’s surface they are critical to the health and survival of our plant. Often referred to as the ‘lungs of the planet’ rainforests play a critical role in regulating the Earth’s climate by stimulating rainfall and producing oxygen to which all animals, including humans, depend on for survival.

Unfortunately the impact of human encroachment over the last century has resulted in nearly half of the Earth’s original rainforests already been lost. Each year millions of acres of rainforest continues to be cut down to make way for development and expanding agriculture.

It’s an issue that stretches around the globe – and one that affects us all. But there is hope! Global conservation efforts are combating the impacts of rainforest deforestation. Each year thousands of hectares of rainforest is being protected and restored, all through the collective determination of individuals like you who care about the future of our rainforests.

On average 198,000 hectares of Ecuador's rainforests are cleared each year

Since 2003 Rainforest Rescue has been supporting international project partner Rainforest Concern in their efforts to create a critical biodiversity corridor between two of Ecuador’s biological hotspots – the Choco-Darien Rainforest and the Tropical Andes. Contributions by Rainforest Rescue supporters towards our Ecuador Save a Hectare Project have so far contributed to the purchase and protection of 1,584 hectares.

Our appeal in April to extend the corridor through the purchase of an 80-hectare property called “Ponce” raised $15,865 towards this important acquisition. Thank you to all of our supporters who donated to this appeal and who have supported this worthwhile project over the past ten years.

If ever there was a project to be the showcase for rainforest restoration then look no further than the ground-breaking work being undertaken by our international project partner the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC). Working alongside local communities the OIC is reversing the damage caused by illegal clearing for Oil Palms within the Gunung Leuser National Park (GLNP) in North Sumatra.

OIC Director Panut Hadisiswoyo (right) and Restoration Coordinator Ari Azhari inspect tree growth on the restoration site

Listed as a World Heritage Area the GLNP is the last remaining viable habitat for the Critically Endangered Sumatran Orangutan. Since 2009, donations from Rainforest Rescue supporters towards our Orangutan Habitat for Survival Project have contributed to the restoration of 500 hectares of rainforest habitat within the National Park through the removal of illegally planted Oil Palms and the planting of 398,692 rainforest species.

Founder and Director of the OIC Panut Hadisiswoyo was recently awarded the GRASP Ian Redmond Conservation Award in recognition of his efforts to save the Sumatran Orangutan and in 2012 was shortlisted as a UN Hero of the Forest. Hear firsthand from Panut about the work he and his team are undertaking within the Gunung Leuser National Park.

Our recent appeal in August, which coincided with the inaugural World Orangutan Day, has raised a further $6,590 towards this internationally recognised project. On behalf of Panut and his team at the OIC, thank you to everyone who has contributed towards this project.

For further information on ou

Focus on wildlife

November 6th, 2013

A partnership with the Cranbrook School in Sydney has resulted in an innovative new project to sponsor camera traps in Sumatra

Robin Nagy with representatives from ALeRT and the cameras donated by students and families of Cranbrook School Sydney

When teacher and wildlife enthusiast Robin Nagy visited Sumatra last year with students from Cranbrook School it sparked a burning desire to do more to help out with restoration efforts on the ground. Impressed by the work being undertaken by our project partner the Orangutan Information Centre (OIC) in the Gunung Leuser National Park, along with that of ALeRT in the Way Kambas National Park, Robin set about to fundraise for camera traps that would monitor the outcomes of the work being undertaken.

Through a fundraising drive at the school families of students were asked to sponsor their own camera valued at $400 each. The fundraising drive raised a total of $11,600 that enabled the purchase of 27 cameras, 22 of which were donated to ALeRT and 5 to the OIC along with a GPS location device. Each camera has been marked with a serial number that enables the sponsor family to track the images from their own donated camera.

Students at Cranbrook School in Sydney raised $11,600 to purchase 27 camera traps for our projects in North and South Sumatra

Camera trap projects are a great way to monitor elusive wildlife such as the Critically Endangered Sumatran Orangutan, Tiger and Rhinoceros. This kind of research data provides Rainforest Rescue and our project partners with the information required to reinforce the need to continue our conservation efforts to protect and restore such biodiverse ecosystems.

For the past five years Rainforest Rescue has been supporting the work of the OIC to protect and restore the last viable habitat for the Critically Endangered Sumatran Orangutan through our Orangutan Habitat for Survival Project. This partnership has seen the removal of 500 hectares of illegally planted Oil Palms and the planting of over 400,000 rainforest species across 196 hectares of National Park.

Aside from capturing elusive wildlife, camera-trapping is one of the ways in which the project team can demonstrate the success of their restoration efforts. Time-lapse videos highlight the growth rate of rainforest plantings and document the return of wildlife to once barren and degraded landscapes.

Since the installation of the cameras in September, both project sites have captured some stunning images including a Pig-tailed Macaque and a Great Argus Pheasant. Images are regularly uploaded online and can be viewed by clicking on the following project links – Gunung Leuser National ParkWay Kambas National Park.

This stunning image of a Great Argus Pheasant was captured on cameras donated to the Orangutan Information Centre who are working to restore habitat in the Gunung Leuser National Park in North Sumatra

Rainforest Rescue wishes to thank Mr Robin Nagy and the students and families of Cranbrook School for their continued enthusiasm and support of our projects in Sumatra.

If you have an innovative fundraising idea, or are looking for an opportunity to get your school involved, send us an email to admin@rainforestrescue.org.au.

cause for celebration

November 6th, 2013

The inclusion of our 21st property into the Daintree National Park caps off an important milestone in our efforts to save the Daintree

Strangler fig on Lot 76 Rosewood Road

In December last year Rainforest Rescue put the call out to its supporters to help secure a very special property in the Daintree. With the owners of Lot 76 Rosewood Road looking to build their dream home in the heart of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest, they sought our advice as to how best minimise their impact on the surrounding rainforest.

Of course we advised that the best course of action would be not to build at all and sell the property to us in order that we could save the rainforest forever.

Inspired by the sight of two Endangered Southern Cassowaries on the property the owners agreed. Thanks to our generous supporters in little over three months we announced the successful purchase of this property in April 2013.

The purchase of Lot 76 Rosewood Road culminated in an important milestone for Rainforest Rescue that being the 21st property protected through our Daintree Buy Back and Protect Forever Project.

As the eighth property to be included in our Baralba Corridor Nature Refuge, the property provides critical habitat linkages with the northern boundary of the property adjoining the Daintree National Park / World Heritage Area.

The property contains 'essential habitat' for the Endangered Southern Cassowary (photo courtesy of Daintree Safaris)

As like many properties in this area the vegetation is classified as ‘essential habitat’ for the Endangered Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii) with many rare and endemic plant species to be found. In fact a flora survey undertaken by Rainforest Rescue volunteers Allen Sheather and Barbara Maslen uncovered 147 species of plants, six of which are regarded as rare and/or vulnerable and five which are endemic to the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.

Upon settlement Rainforest Rescue successfully prepared a ministerial submission for the property to be included within the boundaries of the adjoining National Park.

Our next step is explore the opportunity with local Council to seal off one end of Rosewood Road that will further consolidate our conservation efforts in this section of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.

Thank you to all of our supporters who contributed to the purchase and protection of this property. In particular we wish to thank the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife for their generous contribution which facilitated the successful transfer of this property into the boundaries of the National Park.

Back to the future

November 6th, 2013

Restoration efforts on our Baralba Corridor Nature Refuge is rewriting the future of the Daintree.

Fan Palms and Strangler Figs on Lot 83 Rosewood Road

On first glance Lots 82 and 83 Rosewood Road look like they could belong on a scenic postcard. Fronted by huge Fan Palms and dense tropical foliage you get a real sense of the ageless beauty that is the Daintree. But on a closer inspection one can see the all too familiar sign of human interference.

Walking into these properties the signs of disturbance soon become evident…scattered debris, concrete shelters, dumped tyres, rusted out cars and thickets of invasive weeds. It is astonishing to think that people come to live here because of the natural beauty of the area only to destroy the very essence of what it is that draws them here.

Purchased in 2012, thanks to donations by Rainforest Rescue supporters, these two properties are now being restored back to their World Heritage-value courtesy of funding from the Queensland Government’s ‘Everyone’s Environment Grant’ and the North Queensland Wildlife Trust.

Remnants of human habitation litter the landscape. In the background a large Oil Palm looms.

Located in the idyllic Cow Bay Precinct these properties form part of the Baralba Corridor Nature Refuge, a recognised ‘walking track’ for wildlife so named by local Aboriginal people, the kuki yalanji. Linking together two isolated sections of the Daintree National Park / World Heritage Area, the corridor is regularly frequented by wildlife including the Endangered Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii).

But it’s not just the wildlife that depends on this corridor for survival. Up to 135 different species of plants exist in this section of the Daintree, including several rare and threatened species such as the Black Palm (Normanbya normanbyi) and Noah’s Walnut (Endiandra microneura).

Attempts to build on the properties has led to fragmented pockets of rainforest that have given rise to a number of invasive weed species including the twining legume Calopo (Calopogonium mucunoide) and Singapore Daisy (Sphagneticola trilobata). Of growing concern are three large Oil Palms which dominate the landscape and self-seed their way into the surrounding National Park.

Our restoration efforts over the next twelve months will see the removal of debris and weeds and the planting of native rainforest species that will provide a safe haven for endangered flora and fauna in which to flourish.

In years to come, once the new plantings reach maturity and the rainforest canopy is restored, all evidence of human interference will be effectively erased. The future of these rainforest properties will return back to the hands of Mother Nature who has so lovingly looked after them for the past 100 million years.

For more project images check out our Pinterest board

Another property saved in the Daintree

November 6th, 2013

Thanks to our wonderful supporters Lot 16 Forest Creek Road becomes our 22nd property to be protected in the Daintree

There’s something to be said about the collective determination of individuals to take action in protecting our natural places. One only has to look at what we have achieved under our Daintree Buy Back and Protect Forever Project to know that ordinary people, just like you, are making a lasting impact.

The recent purchase of Lot 16 Forest Creek Road, which featured in our ‘Top 5 tax appeal’, is just another example of what can happen when ‘like-minded’ people unite for a common cause.

Located close to four other properties already protected by Rainforest Rescue, the acquisition of Lot 16 provides further habitat connectivity to the surrounding Daintree National Park / World Heritage Area, home to over 122 rare, threatened and endangered species including the Endangered Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii) and the rare Bennett’s Tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus bennettianus).

With the property classified as containing ‘essential habitat’ for the Endangered Southern Cassowary, its conservation value is unquestionable. A flora and fauna survey undertaken on the property identified 128 different plant species including five threatened species: Brass’ Pothos (Pothos brassii), Black Palm (Normanbya normanbyi), Kamala (Mallotus polyadenos), Rusty Rhodmyrtus (Rhodomyrtus effuse) and species of Haplostichantus.

With 22 properties now protected in the Daintree, our project to buy back and protect all remaining high conservation-value properties in the Daintree continues to gather strength. This strength stems from the ongoing commitment of people like you who believe and share in our mission.

Thank you to all of our wonderful supporters who donated towards the purchase of Lot 16 Forest Creek Road. With each property purchase we are one step closer to achieving our vision of buying back all remaining high conservation-value properties in the Daintree by 2030. We look forward to announcing more property purchases in the coming months.

Shining a light on rainforest restoration

November 6th, 2013

Beneath the shadow of the spectacular Thornton’s Peak, Rainforest Rescue’s Cassowary Conservation Reserve is a shining example of how to rescue and rehabilitate rainforest.

Tree planting Cassowary Conservation Reserve

Volunteers planting trees on our Cassowary Conservation Reserve, May 2013

It goes without saying that if you put in the hard work you will reap the rewards…and that has certainly been the case on our Cassowary Conservation Reserve with a further 14,362 trees planted this year. All of this undertaken by our dedicated team in the Daintree comprising of Joe Reichl and Adrian ‘Golly’ Watson with support from a handful of passionate volunteers.

Walking around the property one cannot but be amazed at the incredible transformation that has taken place in the last three years. The wildlife is returning with Cassowaries visiting almost daily. The vigorous growth of the plantings has replaced a degraded landscape with a vibrant young rainforest and a rapidly developing rainforest canopy.

Located in the Cooper’s Creek Precinct, the property provides a critical wildlife corridor between the Daintree Lowland Rainforest and the upper reaches of the Daintree National Park/World Heritage Area. Cassowaries are often seen traversing through the property with the area classified as containing ‘essential habitat’ for the Endangered Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii).

The property was littered with rubbish including abandoned cars, a caravan, a boat and a dilapidated shed which have all since been removed

Purchased in 2010, almost two-thirds of this 27 hectare property was a tangle of impenetrable weeds, dumped cars and rubbish following decades of abuse from a combination of clearing and agriculture. The worst of the weeds was the dreaded Oil Palm; greedily self-seeding across the property.

With a grant under the Australian Government’s Biodiversity Fund, our Cassowary Conservation Reserve is now setting the benchmark for rainforest restoration in Queensland’s Wet Tropics. A total of 20,878 trees have been planted to date, with a further 10,000 to be planted in the coming year. All of the seedlings are grown in our Daintree Rainforest Nursery using locally sourced seeds adding further integrity to the project.

New rainforest is forming on our Cassowary Conservation Reserve

A vibrant new rainforest is quickly transforming the property from a degraded landscape

In addition to the planting the site is also the basis of a research project to record the growth rate of new plantings alongside the natural regeneration that occurs on the site. The research is being headed by rainforest ecologist Dr Robert Kooyman with assistance from our Chair Madeleine Faught. Seven research plots have been established, each measuring 50 x 20 metres, along with permanent photographic points to visually capture growth rates and site changes. Our Daintree Nursery Manager, Edie Beitzel is also assisting with the research by identifying rainforest species within each of the research plots.

Identifying plants on our Cassowary Conservation Reserve

Dr Robert Kooyman and Nursery Manager Edie Beitzel identify and document rainforest plant species as part of our research project

So far two monitoring cycles have been completed. This involves recording the number and size of all planted stems and natural regrowth and the rate and development of the canopy and leaf litter cover. Monitoring will continue over the next twelve months, with the accumulated data offering a genuine window into the growth and performance of both individual species and planting designs. This information is invaluable in developing a growing knowledge base for restoration design and biosequestration.

The project is featured on the Ecological Management & Restoration Project Summaries website and includes a table of the monitoring results to date.

This restoration project is a living example of how we can make a difference. Working together we can both protect and restore biodiverse rainforest into the future.

To see further project images check out our Pinterest page

American Actress Joins Rainforest Rescue as Sri Lankan Ambassador

April 5th, 2013

American Actress Thushari Jayasekera has joined Rainforest Rescue as ambassador for our Sri Lanka Plant a Rainforest Project


American actress Thushari Jayasekera has been invited as an ambassador to Rainforest Rescue’s Sri Lanka Plant a Rainforest Project. Thushari will help create awareness about why it’s important to help protect the natural resources of the Sinharaja Rainforest located in the southwestern region of the island.

Thushari decided to take part because she cares about healing the environment as a whole. She has already written some paragraphs as to why she supports the long term preservation of this “hot spot” through Rainforest Rescue’s profile on Global Giving.

Global Giving provides a portal for individuals to donate to worthy causes throughout the world. “For Rainforest Rescue it provides us with an opportunity to offer our US-based supporters an easy way to donate to our projects and receive a tax-deduction” said Erryn Stephens, Fundraising & Communications Manager at Rainforest Rescue.

“We are very grateful to Thushari for raising the profile of our work within the Sinharaja Forest Reserve” says Ms Erryn Stephens.

About the Sinharaja Forest Reserve Project:


Rainforest Rescue’s Sri Lanka Plant a Rainforest Project is working in partnership with Rainforest Rescue International (RRI) to create a rainforest corridor between the two largest remaining rainforest areas in south-west Sri Lanka, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve and the nearby Kanneliya Forest. Sri Lanka’s rainforests are one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet with a total cover of less than a few thousand hectares. Continual deforestation has lead to one of the highest rates of threatened and endangered species in the world.

About Thushari:

She is best known, among other things, for playing Pinky on NBC Outsourced, for narrating the audiobook Love Marriage, and being a Golden Raspberry Awards Presenter

More trees for Cassowaries planted at Mission Beach

February 22nd, 2013

Cassowaries in the Bingil Bay area have larger, safer and better connected habitat as a result of local residents clearing weeds and planting 500 trees on a council reserve.

Funding provided by Rainforest Rescue culminated in a tree planting event held on Sunday 17th February, managed by project implementation partner Terrain NRM, where nearly 40 locals planted 500 trees.

Around 40 volunteers from the local community planted 500 trees to expand habitat for Cassowary populations at Bingil Bay Reserve

The tree planting is the second to be funded by Rainforest Rescue in the Mission Beach area; the local Cassowary population is also benefitting from the planting of 1,900 trees, also managed by Terrain, in a Cassowary corridor at Cottonwood, near Wongaling Beach.

Bingil Bay resident Greg James, who planted trees on the day and is also a Rainforest Rescue supporter said, “Because of the pressures around here, this is an area that needs attention, every little bit counts.”

This year’s site was specifically chosen because it is known that Cassowaries use this particular reserve for both habitat and as a corridor.

“This corridor links Clump Mountain with Brookes and Garners Beaches and at least six different cassowaries have been seen using this corridor,” said Terrain’s Tony O’Malley.

The corridor provides a valuable wildlife link between Clump Mountain and Brookes and Garners Beach. At least six different Cassowaries are known to use this corridor.

Rainforest Rescue’s Erryn Stephens said, “Through Terrain we are achieving positive outcomes for local Cassowary populations and other threatened and endangered species that rely on the rainforest for survival.

“This collaborative approach to rainforest restoration would not be possible without the wonderful support we have received from the Mazda Foundation, Taronga Conservation Society, Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife, North Queensland Wildlife Trust and Amuse Australia, along with donations from the general community.”

The site is part of a network of reserves managed by the Cassowary Coast Regional Council in the Bingil Bay area.

This particular tree planting event builds on revegetation work that Terrain previously funded C4 to do to improve the landscape for this endangered species, on another section of the same site.

Local Siobhan Jackson said, “The community involvement is a great initiative. It gives people ownership of environmental care and an awareness of where the corridors are.”

“Bingil Bay is a special place where people live in the rainforest and share the same space as the Cassowary,” said Mr O’Malley.

Rainforest Rescue will also fund a contractor to manage weeds in the replanted site through the wet season.

Rainforest Rescue is a national not-for-profit organisation and Terrain, also not-for-profit, supports natural resource management in the Wet Tropics region.

For further information on this project, or to make a donation, visit www.rainforestrescue.org.au/ourprojects/save-a-rainforest-mission-beach

Cassowaries in Danger

November 27th, 2012
Bob is a passionate campaigner for Cassowary conservation and the work of Rainforest Rescue to protect and restore Cassowary habitat.


Whether he knows it or not, Bob Irwin is as much on a mission as he is on an adventure these days. Well known for his pioneering role in Australia Zoo on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, Bob has long been captivated by native animals and their natural habitats.

Now, as Rainforest Rescue’s Cassowary Conservation Ambassador, Bob is doing what he can to raise the profile of the Cassowary’s plight in what has become a race against time.

“I firmly believe that the Cassowary is the most magnificent bird… and we are lucky to have it,” says Bob simply. “I’ve been fortunate to have come across Cassowaries in the wild, I’d just like every Australian to have that.”

Whether or not this dream is realised, only time will tell. Scientists now estimate that as few as 1,000 adult birds remain in all of Australia’s north. “Numbers are drastically low… around Mission Beach, it’s really getting to a level where it’s reaching a tipping point.”

Known as the Cassowary Coast, Mission Beach has long been considered a strong-hold for the Cassowary. But according to Bob, it could very soon be a coast with no Cassowaries.

“At Mission Beach, the road toll is the big issue. Cassowaries don’t have any road sense. Most people in the area are very much aware of them… but there are always a few who just want to get from A to B as quickly as they can. It’s an ongoing battle.”

Over 40% of prime Cassowary habitat was destroyed by Cyclone Yasi in February 2011. Photo Liz Gallie

Add to that, the devastating impact of Cyclone Yasi. “There’s nothing we can do about nature when she decides to let loose. Since Cyclone Yasi, we’ve all worked hard to get it back on track. When I visited recently, I was pleasantly surprised how things have come back. Everything is starting to grow again,” says Bob.

Although he appreciates that cyclones are a part of the natural cycle of disturbance and renewal within Australia’s tropical rainforests, Bob worries that, at any time, such an event could wipe out the very small Cassowary population.

He is convinced that as well as being a fight against time, it’s a fight against complacency.

“I think education is important. We have to find ways to get people to sit up and notice,” says Bob. “These beautiful creatures don’t have time. It’s got to be done now. Let’s not leave it too late.”

‘the gardener’ of the rainforest

The Cassowary is known as the ‘gardener of the rainforest’ for its important role in dispersing seeds. Photo Jonathan Munro

The Endangered Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii) is one of the world’s most prehistoric birds, and the third largest. It only inhabits the dense tropical rainforests of Far North Queensland. Crucial for rainforest ecology, the Cassowary is a major seed disperser for up to 150 rainforest plant species, some too large, others too poisonous to be dispersed by other animals. Around 70 to 100 plant species may depend entirely on the Cassowary to disperse their seeds in order for them to grow. The bird’s unique digestive tract has evolved over 16 million years to allow seeds to be dispersed unharmed. Research has shown that typically Cassowaries transport 4% of the seeds they consume an average distance of 1.5km.

“Cassowaries are important to the rainforest. If we don’t have them, then rainforest can’t regenerate,” says Bob Irwin.

Small nursery, big results

November 27th, 2012

When it comes to taking credit for the Daintree Rainforest Plant Nursery’s extraordinary outputs, Nursery Manager Edie Beitzel shies away from the spotlight. But Edie and her small band of volunteers must be doing something right – they propagated 6,000 rainforest plants last year growing up to 165 different rainforest species.

Father and daughter Joe Reichl and Edie Beitzel oversee our activities in the Daintree

“We have 10 volunteers on the books doing various tasks, and about four come along regularly each week. They come for an enjoyable afternoon. They like to see the progress, from the seed stage, through to when they are planted in the ground.

On a typical day, I prepare the volunteers essential afternoon tea, move stock out to make space for new propagations, update the database, it’s pretty varied and planting.

It’s a challenge to keep up the diversity of species.

A dedicated team of volunteers, both young and old, meet every Wednesday afternoon to propagate and look after seedlings used in our rainforest plantings

For example, some species might only fruit every two years – so it’s timing things for when we need them. We have to ensure there are enough species for projects, keep enough balance. For Cassowaries, it’s supplying the trees that they need, so that there’s always something fruiting.

I’ve been doing this job for a bit over two years. It’s interesting, flexible, there is always something surprising… I love learning about the rainforest and working with the volunteers. I also have three kids and they love being part of it too.”

For further information on our Daintree Rainforest Plant Nursery or to enquire about volunteering please visit http://www.rainforestrescue.org.au/ourprojects/daintree-nursery.html