The Cumberland Islands, as first charted by then Lieutenant James Cook in 1770, included the islands directly offshore of Mackay through to the northern part of what is now referred to as the Whitsunday Islands. More contemporary convention has the Cumberland Islands including Brampton and Carlisle, St Bees and Keswick, Scawfell, Penrith, The Smith group and a scattering of others. Naming semantics aside, the Cumberland’s have huge conservation value and play integral roles in conserving Australia’s biodiversity. They are also examples of the evolutionary processes that were driven by a great period of climate change, the warming of the last Ice Age during the Holocene Period (commencing about 12,000 years ago). This period saw massive increases in sea level, which inundated the coastal plain, resulting in formation of the Cumberland and other islands along the Queensland coast.
The Cumberland Islands floristically are very similar to the adjacent mainland to which they were once attached. However, as they are now islands, there are remarkable opportunities for conservation of biological diversity, which mainland areas do not have. For example, few islands have populations of vertebrate pests, and the only remaining population of e.g. feral goats is being removed from St Bees Island. With careful vigilance to biosecurity, we are also able to prevent pests such as feral cats and introduced rodents from invading these islands. Further, we can to a large degree prevent new infestations of weeds, and we can dramatically reduce the impacts of those that have established. For example, Wildmob places a strong focus on rehabilitation and ongoing management of critically endangered littoral rainforest. http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/communities/pubs/76-listing-advice.pdf
Wildmob also works to improve habitat quality for threatened species that use the Cumberland’s during part or all of their life cycle. For example, we remove marine debris from marine turtle nesting beaches, and areas used by seabirds and migratory waders, so as to significantly reduce the risks of ingestion and entanglement. https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/d945695b-a3b9-4010-91b4-914efcdbae2f/files/marine-debris-threat-abatement-plan.pdf
The Australian landscape has been moulded over millennia through the use of fire by Aboriginal peoples. Application of Traditional fire science is integral to maintaining ecosystem diversity and structure, and in more contemporary management regimes, the control of many weed species because they are not tolerant to fire like native species. The Cumberland Islands are no different and Wildmob is close to completing a comprehensive fire management strategy for these islands on behalf of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. Wildmob is playing an integral role in monitoring and planning the use of fire that mimics to the greatest possible extent, Traditional Aboriginal fire science.
Wildmob is a science based organisation that seeks to be guided by the best available information. That includes Traditional Ecological Knowledge. We are humbled and enormously grateful for the guidance that we have received from the Traditional Owners of the Cumberland Islands, the Ngaro people.
Wild Mob respectfully acknowledges the Ngaro people, their Elders past and present, and the important role they continue to play on Land and Sea Country where we carry out our conservation projects.