On the northern outskirts of Mossman appears a line of riparian vegetation framed against the mountain backdrop. The vegetation is along the banks of Kubirri creek, a small seasonal tributary of the Mossman River. The vine forests along the creek are ‘of concern’ and ‘endangered’ and may contain habitat or habitat connectivity for a number of threatened flora species. Kubirri Creek is also culturally significant for the Kubirriwarra Bama and wider Eastern Kuku Yalanji Bama. An important meeting place, the creek banks are used for men and women’s camps with the vine forests and creek providing sustenance. The creek also forms the boundary of the Mossman Botanic Garden project.
The Cairns Institute Adjunct Research Fellow and Mossman Botanic Garden project coordinator, Rebecca Pearse, states “the creek is in need of some care through improved weed and erosion control and a $50,000 Landcare grant is designed to do just that. The Kubirri Creek restoration project is not just about biophysical outcomes though. It also builds key relationships, increases capacity through collaboration and is the first baby step in delivering social, cultural and economic opportunities to Mossman.”
The first step in the project involved the exploration and recording of cultural significance of the creek. This was conducted through a combination of community consultations with the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owners, Kubirriwarra Bama, and a cultural heritage field inspection to identify any physical and/or intangible cultural heritage sites. The cultural assessment was funded 50% by Landcare and 50% by Mossman Botanic Garden. The cultural assessment has given these two groups the opportunity to build great professional relationships which will continue throughout the wider Mossman Botanic Garden project. Consultation activities identified that the entire length of Kubirri Creek, on both sides, is an important place as it was used as a traditional and contemporary camping ground as evidenced by the current camp infrastructure. On this basis, the project area meets the criteria of a Significant Aboriginal Area (Section 9 of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003). All sloping banks (point bar) of the creek were confirmed as camping locations.
The second step of the project will take place in late April with staff from the Australian Tropical Herbarium undertaking a vegetation survey. They will be on the lookout for critically endangered or endangered plants such as tassel ferns (Phlegmariurus species), the Blue Orchid (Dendrobium nindii), Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis amabilis subsp. rosenstromii) and the Mossman Fairy Orchid (Oberonia attenuata). Joining the survey will be two rangers from Jabalbina Aboriginal Corporation, keen to add the techniques to undertake detailed vegetation assessment to their skillset. The bulk of the funding will then be deployed through Jabalbina for weed and debris removal followed by replanting for weed and erosion control. The work will be carried out according to a management plan, advised by the cultural heritage assessment, vegetation assessment and national and regional codes and guidelines.
The final stage of the project will be a community monitoring and maintenance plan. We would like to hear from anyone wanting to be a part of the team to design the monitoring program and to maintain the rehabilitation once the grant finishes later in the year. The site will require ongoing maintenance to ensure weeds are minimised, trees are watered and the site is protected from vandalism and illegal dumping of rubbish. If you can help this great project in any capacity please contact Rebecca Pearse on 0428 866 147 or email@example.com.