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Mary Cairncross BioBlitz
  • Last updated:
  • 02 Apr 2020

In December 2019, the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve (MCSR) BioBlitz project won the government category of the prestigious Banksia Foundation Sustainability Awards. The Banksia Awards are the longest-running sustainability awards in the world and recognised as the peak in sustainability in Australia. Banksia judges were impressed by how the MCSR BioBlitz captured the imagination of the community and used new technologies to generate interest in biodiversity conservaiton.

Our award-winning vertical BioBlitz was a unique research event aimed at studying and celebrating biodiversity in the reserve. It brought together a variety of people including:

  • scientists
  • artists
  • Traditional Owners
  • students
  • volunteers
  • members of the broader community.

Five majestic strangler figs (Ficus watkinsiana), each upwards of 45 metres tall, were selected for study. Professional tree-climbers helped give vertical access to the living skyscrapers. This allowed the research teams to survey from ground level to the emergent canopy. There are still some cameras and microphones active at the top of the forest. You can listen to the LIVE sounds of the canopy through the Locus Soundmap project.

Traditional Owners, the Jinibara People, opened the BioBlitz and gave each of the five fig trees that was surveyed a Jinibara name:

  • Gureya (fig)
  • BarrBarr (Flying fox)
  • Mook Mook (ghost)
  • Dala (staghorn)
  • Djuli Djuli (spirit).

The BioBlitz participants contributed their time to support biodiversity conservation at the reserve. The range of scientific teams included:

  • Researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast, and PhD students from the Queensland University of Technology and University of Queensland - who got up close and personal with dung beetles, bats and other mammals in the canopy.
  • Scientists from the Queensland Herbarium and the Queensland Plant Pathology Herbarium - who took samples of moss and fungi to be analysed and recorded. The scientific research was also supported by private consultancies looking at plants and epiphytes in particular.
  • The Entomological Society of Queensland and the Queensland Mycological Society – who supported teams interested in insects and mushrooms.

A creative research team of six artists was also formed. They recorded the rainforest’s biodiversity in colour and prose in five visual diaries. Their exquisite work was on show  in the Mary Cairncross Theatrette during the BioBlitz Exhibition. 

During the course of the project, over 250 members of the public participated in a range of citizen-science, cultural and creative activities throughout the BioBlitz, including:

  • botanical print-making and nature journaling
  • Jinibara talking circles
  • pademelon counts
  • insect and bat walks
  • a fascinating discussion panel on bio-communication held at the Maleny Community Centre.

A report on findings from the BioBlitz is currently being finalised and will be available through the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve website (mary-cairncross.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au). You can contribute to mapping species diversity at Mary Cairncross through our Mary Cairncross BioQuest project.