By: Michael Fox
A beautiful day for a walk in the bush. I joined Professor Darryl Jones, Griffith University and members of Karawatha Protection Society for a field trip to explore the Fauna Movement Solutions linking Kuraby Forest and Karawatha Forest across Compton Road.
The discipline of Movement Ecology only developed around 2002 so building this innovative wildlife bridge in 2005 was a bold step. At the time traffic on the two lane Compton Road was rapidly increasing with a consequent increase in road kill. The Brisbane City Council decision to widen the road to four lanes was both a threat and an opportunity if the partnership of Karawatha Protection Society and Griffith University could change the existing thinking from protect wildlife by keeping it off the road to making the road ‘transparent’ to wildlife.
In his presentation Darryl Jones highlighted the importance of community groups in driving change even when the science is clear. What makes this project courageous is the fact that the science of Movement Ecology was only just evolving and researchers have since found many unexpected results.
Small birds are one surprising user of the wildlife bridge. Small birds will normally not cross a wide gap in the forest canopy so being limited to an island habitat they are vulnerable local extinction events like bushfire. The other surprise is the behaviour of micro-bats. The concrete arch sections have become unexpected Shelter with micro-bats making homes in the gaps in arch sections. Each night the bats emerge to forage in the surrounding forests. Monitoring with ultrasonic (anabat) recorders shows no activity above the road (white), significant activity about 100 metres from the road (yellow) however the wildlife bridge itself was a hotspot (bright red) for micro-bat activity transiting from forest to forest.
As part of the Logan [Motorway] Enhancement Project Transurban Queensland is building sophisticated fauna movement solutions including a new wildlife bridge across Illaweena Street which will reduce the road kill on that increasingly busy road and allow for future expansion to four lanes. Combined with underpasses and rope bridges this will create excellent fauna movement solutions linking Kuraby through Karawatha Forest to habitat at Parkinson.