25 August 2023
Wildlife Queensland is proud to announce the establishment of a new network, the Cliff Conservation Alliance (CCA).
The CCA aims to address the growing environmental impacts of outdoor recreational activities on cliff environments across Queensland. Its membership includes rock climbers, bushwalkers, naturalists, educators, conservationists, and researchers.
The purpose of the CCA is to:
- advocate the protection, conservation, and appropriate use of cliff environments
- promote cliff conservation on, below, and above the cliffs
- educate the climbing community to value cliffs via respect, restraint, responsibility, reverence, and integrity
- engage in activities consistent with the above purposes.
Outdoor activities affect cliff habitats
While existing organisations promote environmentally sensitive recreation, their primary focus is often on ensuring human access without considering the ecological consequences.
The CCA is not opposed to sustainable outdoor recreational cliff-based activities. However, massive increases in the number of cliff-based activity participants create challenges.
The new network seeks to bridge the gap by offering expertise in managing the preservation needs of delicate cliff ecologies alongside the demands of outdoor enthusiasts.
The CCA also intends to conduct research and surveys to understand the long-term impacts of recreational activities on cliff habitats.
With support from like-minded scientists, ecologists, and educators, the group aims to collaborate with land managers to foster responsible outdoor recreation practices in Queensland.
Cliff recreational activities disrupt brush-tailed rock-wallabies
The recent surge in recreational activities involving cliffs and rocks threatens numerous plant and animal species. Among them, the brush-tailed rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata), classified as vulnerable under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, is particularly affected.1
The brush-tailed rock-wallaby relies heavily on rocky habitats for survival. Steep slopes deter predators, and rain shed by rocky slopes can produce lush growth below.
This small to medium-sized macropod is also highly territorial and is sensitive to physical disturbance from humans. The wallaby enjoys sunbathing on steep rocks during daylight hours. Also, rocky outcrops offer cool shelters during hot summers, curbing heat stress and water loss.
Unfortunately, frequent human disruptions keep brush-tailed rock-wallabies in a constant state of alertness, impacting their behaviour and hindering their ability to rest.
Rock climbers threaten wildlife
The plant Westringia rupicola is another species under threat from recreational cliff-based rock activities in Queensland. The species is listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and rare and threatened on Lamington National Park’s wildlife species list.2
In Lamington National Park, the unsanctioned development of the eastern-facing cliffs below Binna Burra by rock climbers has been identified by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service as a threat to Westringia rupicola.
Only this week, ABC News brought to light the vulnerability of Peregrine falcons nesting on Tasmanian cliffs. Climbers who disrupt their breeding season could pose a significant threat to their population.3
CCA and Wildlife Queensland will work together to protect cliff environments
“Wildlife Queensland welcomes the Cliff Conservation Alliance (CCA) as a new network under the broad Wildlife Queensland umbrella,” says Wildlife Queensland’s Policies & Campaigns Manager Des Boyland.
“The CCA fulfils a knowledge gap in our skillset and will assist in conserving and protecting our natural environment.”
By affiliating with Wildlife Queensland, the CCA hopes to expand its reach and have a more significant impact in protecting the unique cliff environments of Queensland.
For more information
- Visit the CCA web page for more information about the network and how to get involved.
- Like the CCA Facebook page to stay up-to-date with our latest news and activities.
- Support the CCA by becoming a Wildlife Queensland member.