The survival of our plants and animals are strongly linked together. For example, the endangered bulloak jewel butterfly depends on one she-oak tree species for its survival. Other plants and animals share special relationships—the same flying-fox that feeds on the fruit of a tree also spreads its seeds, helping the tree to regenerate.
Legislation and national parks provide some protection for native plants and animals but each of us can also help.
Conserving native plants
All native plants are protected on national parks and other protected areas. However, conserving them is not an easy task with the greatest threats to their survival from land clearing (for subdivision and cultivation), cattle grazing, changing fire patterns and the spread of weeds.
Unregulated collecting of native plants and plant parts for the nursery, cut flower and bush tucker trade is another potential threat to some of our native plants.
Recovery plans and conservation plans are developed to protect native plants (especially threatened species), and to regulate commercial use of some native plants; however, little is known about the survival requirements of many rare and threatened species.
You can help
In the past, rare and threatened plants did not have the same public exposure as native animals, so the community has been less concerned about their survival.
The role of the community in conserving plants is crucial because half the rare and threatened species occur outside protected areas. Retaining natural vegetation on private lands is therefore essential to protecting them.
You can help conserve native plants through the following actions:
- Plant local native species on your property and in your garden—even common species provide food and shelter for wildlife.
- Make a special effort to grow rare or threatened species from your local area.
- Retain native bushland on your property, including shrubs and grasses as well as trees.
- Report sightings of rare or unusual species to the rangers when you visit a national park
- Look for tags on protected plants when you buy native species, and refrain from buying any untagged plants.
Conserving native animals
The key to ensuring the survival of many native animals is protecting their habitat. They need food, water and nutrients, and places to breed and shelter from weather and predators — keep the habitat, keep the animal.
Wild animals often need adequate areas of bushland or wetland to survive and thrive. Where an animal's natural habitat has been cleared or reduced to small isolated patches, the local population is unlikely to survive. Therefore, national parks, other protected areas, and habitat that is retained on private land are therefore critical for wildlife conservation.
All native animals are protected on national parks and similar reserves. In Queensland, threatened animals are protected everywhere, and legislative controls help protect them from exploitation.
Native mammals, birds, and most reptiles and frogs cannot be captured, kept or used without a permit. A permit to take them from the wild is issued only when research shows that a species' natural population can sustain the permitted harvesting levels.
Illegal trafficking in native wildlife is a serious problem, and federal, state and territory governments work together to reduce it and protect our native animals.
Recovery and conservation plans are developed to protect threatened animals, reduce the likelihood of their extinction, and to regulate the commercial use of some common animals such as kangaroos.
Non-native animals can prey on our native species, and compete with them for scarce food and shelter. The government has designed control programs to minimise this threat. Legislation also prevents people from keeping non-native species such as ferrets which, if they establish in the wild, could seriously threaten our native animals.
You can help
Government actions to protect our wildlife are important, but success depends on the support of the whole community. You can help protect our native animals through the following actions:
- Plant local, native species in your garden and on your property, especially those preferred by native animals in your area.
- Grow native flowers, as many native animals eat nectar.
- Provide natural foods such as flowers and fruits, rather than artificial foods such as honey and seed bells, and refrain from feeding native animals.
- Make your garden as natural as possible with ponds and vegetation layers from ground covers to trees.
- Retain or replant natural bushland in your neighbourhood, especially along creeks and fence-lines so animals can use them to move between bushland remnants.
- Leave fallen leaves and twigs on the ground, as this provides living places for many insects, increases nutrients in the soil, and reduces water loss.
- Avoid the use of pesticides, as they can harm the same insects which eat your plants and attract other native animals into your garden.
- Establish nesting boxes for possums and birds in trees on your property.
- Make your backyard "koala friendly".
- Ensure you have the necessary permits from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection before keeping any native animals.
- Seeking expert advice about any sick, injured or orphaned native animals you find (see below).
- For any annoying animals, focus on what's special about the animal rather than dwelling on its possible nuisance value.
- Refrain from harassing or chasing native animals
- Restrain your dog from chasing wildlife, and lock up your cat when appropriate.
- Driving slowly in areas where native animals are known to cross the road.
- Consider making your property a nature refuge, or part of a coordinated conservation area.
Sick, injured or orphaned animals
The department has entered into a partnership with the RSPCA Qld to enhance wildlife rescue, care and rehabilitation in Queensland.
If you encounter sick, injured or orphaned animals, marine animal strikes or marine animal strandings, contact RSPCA Qld.
If your report relates to crocodile sightings, injured, sick or orphaned cassowaries or C3 bats (a bat that has bitten or scratched a person, or the person has had exposure to the bat’s saliva or neural tissue through their mucous membranes, e.g. eye), contact the department.