But it’s in a good way! Find out how you can offer your unused or vacant territory to Aussie wildlife in need – it’s simple and a really cool thing to do.
By Laura Muir, HSI and WLT Project Officer
It has been a bumper year for the Wildlife Land Trust (WLT), and there’s never been a better time for you to get involved. With pressure on global biodiversity continuing to increase, the role of private land conservation is projected to become even more significant over the coming years. We’ve welcomed 70 new member sanctuaries across six states to our network this year, with 14 new sign ups in September alone. This recent influx is showing no sign of abating, which is excellent news for wildlife around the country.
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To give a bit of background, the Wildlife Land Trust is a private land conservation network operating under the guiding principle of humane stewardship which was founded in the United States 20 years ago, and launched by Humane Society International in Australia in 2007. There are currently 398 privately-owned member sanctuaries across Australia, translating to 52,000 hectares of land committed to the protection of habitat for biodiversity.
Benefits to members and local communities
Our members are private individuals whose voluntary efforts and commitments provide a significant public benefit not only to their local communities and ecosystems but also to the preservation of threatened species and habitat on a broader level.
Many of our members either lead or are involved in broader environmental volunteer groups who work to restore habitat for wildlife in their local areas. Earlier this year, the Friends of Yarraman Creek – a community group led by WLT members Scott and Susan Reilly – were awarded the 2016 Waterway Stewardship Award at the South East Queensland Healthy Waterways Awards in recognition of their extensive riparian restoration works. The group volunteered more than 2500 hours to restore Yarraman Creek to a healthy state, attracting native birds and wildlife back to the waterway, including grey-crowned babblers, yellow-footed antechinus and a small platypus colony.
Volunteering opportunities also exist with WLT members who are involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of Australian wildlife. Bev Langley joined the WLT in 2011 and has run Minton Farm Animal Rescue Centre as a free community service in Adelaide Hills for the past 24 years. Bev’s well-established volunteering program encourages teamwork, skills sharing and friendship building with like-minded individuals.
Sanctuaries for Sale
As a result of the hard work and dedication selflessly invested by WLT members, when it comes time to move on we do everything we can to assist in what can be a stressful process. The For Sale section of our website is by far the most visited page. Sanctuaries currently for sale include Saddler Springs, a pristine, high conservation value property covering 8000 hectares and forming part of Queensland’s iconic Carnarvon Ranges. The property includes a 40 person wilderness retreat with long-term multiple-use approved leasehold tenure, and would be an ideal joint venture partnership between a conservation-minded organisation and a commercial tourism experience provider or community organisation that will maximise its unique values.
Sanctuaries You Can Stay
Managing this ever-expanding network, we are constantly devising new ways in which we can assist our members to further their conservation efforts.
We have known for a long time that many WLT sanctuary owners offer wildlife-friendly eco-accommodation to fund their conservation projects. Cognisant of this fact, we officially launched our Sanctuaries You Can Stay in June this year.
The program has been designed to not only help members advertise their wildlife-friendly businesses, but to provide the public with the opportunity to visit some inspirational places and learn about some of the fantastic work being done on private land.
Places that you can stop off at include the following:
Inala Nature Reserve – Bruny Island, TAS
Nestled in tall eucalypt forest on a 607-hectare private reserve on Bruny Island, guests have a choice between Inala Cottage, a three bedroom cabin, and Nairana Cottage, a one bedroom spa unit. Owned by Dr Tonia Cochrane, Inala has a long and proud history in wildlife rehabilitation, caring for injured and abandoned animals. During your time at Inala you may be lucky enough to see one of the staff nestling a tiny Bennett’s wallaby in their jumper or feeding a hungry eastern quoll. Inala is home to one of the largest known colonies of the forty-spotted pardalote (Pardalotus quadragintus), a species listed as endangered under federal environmental law and endemic to Tasmania, with around half of the total population found on Bruny Island.
The Tin Chalet – East Gippsland, VIC
The Tin Chalet is powered exclusively by solar, fully self-contained and a fine example of a WLT sanctuary at the forefront of a sustainable eco-accommodation. The chalet is situated in the farmyard of Jill Redwood’s organic property which is tucked between two national parks – the Errinundra to the east and the Snowy to the west. The land is managed in accordance with organic and sustainable principles, so guests are assured their stay leaves a minimal ecological footprint.
Sanctuary Retreat – Mission Beach, North QLD
Reconnect with nature at Sanctuary Retreat, where only two percent of the 18-hectare wildlife sanctuary is used for an eco-lodge and yoga retreat. As a registered wildlife refuge with the Queensland State Government, Sanctuary Retreat provides a safe haven for wildlife unique to far north Queensland including southern cassowaries.
Pinnacle Eco Retreat – North Coast, NSW
Testament to the diversity of places to stay on offer, Pinnacle Eco Retreat offers a choice between farm style bed and breakfast accommodation and camping. The retreat is located on 20 hectares and boasts local rainforest walks in the World Heritage listed Border Ranges National Park. As is the case with many of our Sanctuaries You Can Stay, the food provided is either home grown or locally sourced. The property is committed to sustainable eco-tourism and encourages guests to follow suit by recycling and being conservative with their water
use supplied solely from rainwater.
Yelverton Brook Eco Spa Retreat & Conservation Sanctuary – Margaret River wine region, WA
Yelverton Brook Eco Spa Retreat & Conservation Sanctuary is a 100-acre wildlife refuge offering wildlife-friendly accommodation in the form of two, one-bedroom and three, two-bedroom deluxe spa chalets surrounded by pristine native bushland, and set within a predator proofed sanctuary. Owners, Joy and Simon Ensor, work tirelessly to provide a safe haven for Western Australian wildlife, most notably nationally-threatened woylies/brush-tailed bettongs. The conservation projects on the sanctuary are self-funded so by choosing to stay at Yelverton Brook you are making a direct financial contribution to the protection of threatened species at the sanctuary. Each chalet is equipped with a wildlife logbook and guests are encouraged to record any animals they encounter during their stay.
Wildlife Rehabilitators Release Network
Now that the Sanctuaries You Can Stay program has successfully launched, we are continuing to work on the Wildlife Rehabilitators Release Network, a new initiative set for launch in the coming months. With a third of our members, including Inala Nature Reserve and other Sanctuaries You Can Stay, involved in wildlife rehabilitation, this program aims to link wildlife carers with quality release sites for their recovered animals – all within the rules and regulations of each state and territory of course.
These wildlife carers go above and beyond. Over the last 12 years, inspirational WLT member Donna Stepan has selflessly cared for more than 700 injured or orphaned wombats at Sleepy Burrows Wombat Sanctuary. Looking after up to 40 demanding wombats at a time is no mean feat, and when the aim is rehabilitation and eventual release back into their natural habitat the task verges on impossible. But not for Donna, who has even established her own wombat education system complete with primary school, high school, university, and honours degree to give all who come her way the best shot at a second chance.
Get involved today!
The WLT is a very inclusive initiative, as demonstrated by the sizes, uses and locations of our member sanctuaries. Whether your property is one or 1000 hectares, a family home, a working farm or one dedicated to conservation, you’ll be making a positive difference for native wildlife and habitat conservation by joining this like-minded, non-binding and risk-free network without cost or legal obligation. And it complements any existing or future agreements you make to protect your land. Learn more about how you can get involved using the link below or get in touch with us on 1800 333 737 or at [email protected]