Protecting Tropical Queensland Environments and Searching for Mahogany Gliders

by isvolunteers on Monday, 2 May 2016

Australian Project Leader Carla Meers, herself an ISV alumnus, led three projects with our long-term partner Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) in Townsville in 2015. Before leading new groups in 2016, Carla gives an insight into the stunning environments ISV volunteers helped protect and the people they worked with during their two-week conservation project last season.


The stunning cascading rock pools of Big Crystal Creek. (c) ISV

Big Crystal Creek is as beautiful as it sounds. Located in Paluma Range National Park around 62 miles (100km) north of tropical Townsville, it is enjoyed by locals and travelers alike for its winding crystal clear creek and waterfalls, native wildlife, and for being among the great Australian bush. This magnificent spot is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Maintaining this park and the surrounding 297,000 acres (120,000 hectares) is a very challenging but rewarding job for Paluma’s Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) rangers.


Enjoying the camp fire after a day’s work at Big Crystal Creek campgrounds. (c) ISV

‘Glamping’ in the Australian Bush

A close partnership with CVA Townsville and QPWS allows ISV volunteers to enjoy a week of camping (well, ‘glamping’ really; glamorous camping with creature comforts) in this unique area while contributing to conservation efforts around the park.


Mulching native plants to help them retain moisture and reduce competition by weeds. (c) ISV

After pitching our tents and setting up our master camping chef’s kitchen, we were ready to get stuck into helping the rangers.

The Hard Yakka

While camping at Big Crystal Creek, in just four days we managed to plant 150 native trees, grasses and shrubs, lay over 66ft3 (20m3) of mulch to improve vegetation quality of surrounding gardens, and develop stone masonry skills while restoring busy walking tracks and greatly improving access for visitors!

The days were hard work, but the afternoons left plenty of time for games by the camp fire, hiking around the stony waterfalls of the creek, and star gazing far away from the lights of the big city.


The Mahogany Glider, thought to be extinct until recently. (Photo: Daryl Dickson)

Searching for Rare Mahogany Gliders

We were very fortunate to help with QPWS’s Mahogany Glider research. These marsupials are endemic to Australia, found exclusively in the forests of Tropical North Queensland, and were lost to science for over a hundred years.

Conducting Mahogany Glider surveys involves hiking deep into the bush crossing steep and rocky terrain to set up motion camera traps in carefully chosen trees, showing evidence of glider presence. Data collected by volunteers is then put forward to gain funding for further, more in-depth research into conserving these amazing Australian mammals.


Conducting Mahogany Glider surveys with QPWS. (c) ISV

“It’s really rewarding that we get to help with Mahogany Glider research, which hasn’t been done for over 40 years!” – Mariah Wussow, University of Wisconsin La Crosse

Supporting Community Conservation Projects

CVA Townsville and ISV are involved in other important conservation efforts more locally around Townsville, giving volunteers a chance to get involved in community programs in the area.

CVA TSV group 6 trail maintenance Cape Pallerenda Town Common NP

The third group of volunteers spent 88 hours maintaining 3280ft (1000m) of walking tracks at Town Common Conservation Park. In this photo, volunteers are constructing reverse gradient dips to prevent erosion during storms. (c) ISV


Hiding out amongst the plants at the bayside nursery at the Townsville ISS, Rowes Bay. (c) ISV

CVA works closely with local QPWS, the Integrated Sustainability Services Centre, and local Townsville community members who get involved with conservation projects like Creekwatch, nursery work for Landcare, and the Cape Pallarenda and Town Common Conservation Park maintenance.

Educating School Kids Through Creekwatch


Macro invertebrate surveys for creek watch during the school holidays. (c) ISV

This year, ISV volunteers were lucky enough to get involved with Creekwatch’s school holiday program, teaching local school kids the importance of clean waterways by conducting water quality, fish, bird and macro-invertebrate surveys. Not only were we contributing to local aquatic conservation and education, we made some cool new friends in the process!

To find out more about volunteering with ISV, visit our website today at  

beach clean up

Protecting our marine wildlife by cleaning up the beach in Townsville. (c) ISV


Group photo at Big Crystal Creek. (c) ISV

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