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July 15, 2024

Landcare grant to rehabilitate endangered fern

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The Border Ranges lined fern was thought to be extinct. Photo supplied.

Wilsons Creek Huonbrook Landcare has been successful with another grant, worth $183,000, to protect threatened species.

The Border Ranges lined fern, also known as Goldilocks Fern, was presumed extinct, having disappeared from its last known location in Qld. A local botanist rediscovered it in the Tweed in 2015. Recent extensive surveys have identified two more sites with populations at Huonbrook near Coopers Creek.

Sadly, some of these ferns were lost in the 2019 drought and the recent 2022 floods.

‘Not too hot, not too cold, not too wet or dry, just right!’ is the preferred environment, hence the nick-name, the Goldilocks fern.

More formally known as Antrophyum austroqueenslandicum, Goldilocks likes to grow on rocks, specifically andesite boulders in rainforest in southern Qld and northern NSW.

The project aims to protect and recover the critically endangered fern in NSW and will deliver crucial on-ground actions to mitigate threats, support the last remaining subpopulations, and contribute to expanding the range of the species.

Secret locations

The project will concentrate on weed control around the habitat in the surrounds of Nightcap, Mount Jerusalem, and further north into the Tweed. Locations are kept secret to protect the threatened species from overzealous fern collectors.

As part of the project, local botanists have been contracted to survey the sites and hopefully find new locations. Local bush regeneration contractors with expertise in working near-threatened species will be employed to clear weeds such as Lantana.

Specialist project partners (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, the Australian Botanic Gardens Mt Annan) will be key to the success of the project. Goldilocks will be monitored and potentially propagated for expansion of the population.

For a species once thought to have become extinct, and through the continuation of strengthened partnerships, this project will lead to positive, long-term recovery outcomes for Antrophyum austroqueenslandicum.

Wilson Creek Huonbrook Landcare has a great history of threatened species projects and threatened ecological community subtropical rainforest recovery.

For more information, contact Wilson Creek Huonbrook Landcare President, Barbara Stewart, on [email protected], or Project Manager, Jo Green, on [email protected].

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