More than 1,000 grasses planted for endangered finch

Date published: 29 April 2021

A local habitat home to the black-throated finch is growing thanks to the planting of more than 1,000 native grasses in the Oak Valley Nature Reserve.

Townsville City Council is planting the native grasses – including Cockatoo Grass, Golden Beard Grass, and Clustered Love Grass – to increase the amount of suitable grass seeds available to the endangered finch.

Community Health, Safety and Environmental Sustainability Committee Deputy chairperson Margie Ryder said the project involves revegetating potential black-throated finch habitat in Oak Valley.

“Townsville is very lucky to be one of the remaining areas where the southern sub-species of the black-throated finch can still be found. Council officers have been working on a project to increase the availability of foraging grasses in the reserve for the endangered species,” Cr Ryder said.

“Over the past 12 months, several projects have been completed in the Oak Valley Nature Reserve to assist the protection of the black-throated finch habitat.

“These projects include the revegetation of over 1,000 native grasses, planting of trees to assist in erosion control along Sachs Creek, clearing of invasive weeds and the installation of a water trough to provide a year-round water source for the finches.

“These native grasses are a food source for the black-throated finch and will increase their access to native grass seed, with the new water trough providing access to water during the dry period when Sachs Creek typically runs dry.

“Additionally, the planting of the native grasses and clearing of high-priority weeds will assist in suppressing weed growth in the area.

“This work is ongoing, and our officers will continue to work with Coastal Dry Tropics Landcare Inc (CDTLI) and Skilling Queenslanders for Work trainees to maintain and protect the site.”

CDTLI Project Officer Brittany Butler said Landcare has been working with Council for several months to propagate the grasses needed to deliver the project.

“Our staff and volunteers have been working with Council to propagate the native grasses for the revegetation works at our Bush Garden Nursery,” Ms Butler said.

“It is always exciting to see native provenance species we provide to the community used to restore eco-systems and bring back biodiversity in the region – in this case focusing on the endangered black-throated finch.

“Our Skilling Queenslanders for Work trainees enjoyed having the opportunity to work alongside Council staff to assist with the revegetation and to provide them an opportunity to put their conservation and land management training to practical use.”

Cr Ryder said the Oak Valley Reserve was chosen because it borders already existing black-throated finch habitat.

“In recent decades, the range of the black-throated finch has shrunk by 80 per cent – with the species no longer found in NSW – due to clearing and modification of its habitat,” she said.

“The main factors contributing to the decline in the black-throated finch include land clearing, introduction of invasive weeds, decline in native grass seed availability, decreased access to year-round water sources, and predators.”