Page 3284 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 23 August 2017

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The ACT has significant scientific and research institutions and makes good use of their expertise to drive innovative approaches to conservation. The Woodlands and Wetlands Trust is a great example of where science is informing the delivery of best practice management of our unique biodiversity. The Woodlands and Wetlands Trust works in partnership with the ACT government to manage the sanctuary and Jerrabomberra wetlands and is continually expanding opportunities for people to discover more about and be part of caring for the environment.

The trust is part of an international collaboration tracking Latham’s snipe that visit Jerrabomberra wetlands and migrate to Japan during our winter. The government has provided $28,000 for trackers and geo-locators to help us understand the Latham’s snipe local movements and migratory flight paths.

At Mulligans, the trust brings together the ACT government, the Australian National University, James Cook University and CSIRO to undertake and communicate world-leading research on grassy woodland conservation. Over the past decade the government has partnered with the ANU to undertake internationally significant research and species reintroductions at the sanctuary. The sanctuary has successfully brought native animals back to the region. Members will have heard about the bettongs reintroduced in 2012 and the quoll reintroduced in 2016. Reintroduction of the bush stone-curlew and New Holland mouse have also been successful and plans are in place for possibly reintroducing the yellow-footed antechinus.

The sanctuary’s tourist attractions are unique in that it is the only woodland in Australia that is predator free and houses fauna that are now extinct across south-east Australia. The experience at Mulligans is unique in that it offers a range of visitor experiences from natural woodlands to night walks. Visitors have the opportunity to see the eastern bettongs, the quolls and bush stone-curlews, along with a range of native animals in their natural environment. The success of the existing twilight tours that are now running twice a week highlight the tourism and educational opportunities that exist. The selection of the Mulligans Flat experience as part of the Canberra Airport virtual reality display that showcases nature-based experiences to incoming visitors further highlights what a unique asset Mulligans is.

In the 2017-18 ACT budget the government committed $162,000 to the design of a Mulligans ecotourism visitor centre. The trust is seeking to leverage funding from other partners, including corporate sponsors, to further develop the site. The centre would be a national gateway to Australia’s unique woodlands and focus on nature-based learning and tourism. The ACT government has allowed for this development through the provision of a suitable site within the Throsby estate development plan.

A visitor centre would be a great place to visit not only for tourists but also for Canberra kids interested in the environment. The Woodlands and Wetlands Trust, who will manage the centre formally, includes representatives of ANU, the local conservation community and the Friends of Mulligans Flat. The trust’s active volunteering programs engage more than 80 mostly Gungahlin residents and broad communications are of interest to thousands of Canberrans each week and often reach a national audience.

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