What an incredible journey it has been since stepping into the role of Lead Ecologist at Wilderlands last year. This position integrates fieldwork, surveys, assessing the health and condition of habitats, monitoring populations of threatened species, analysing data,  and communicating findings.  Additionally, I have had the privilege of collaborating closely with our esteemed conservation partner, Cassinia Environmental, and various industry bodies, fostering a collective effort towards preserving our most vulnerable ecosystems and threatened species.

It gives me great pride to share our inaugural project reports for the properties we protect with results reaffirming how unique these ecosystems are and showing the impact our supporters are making possible.

With over 600 species discovered across these four projects, they really are bustling with so much life, home to 10 endangered birds and 21 threatened plants, we anticipate these numbers are likely to increase in the years ahead as we continue to monitor these projects. Your support is instrumental in allowing these ecosystems to thrive. 

Among the most exciting discoveries from our monitoring this year was the presence of over 30 species of orchids on our Coorong Lakes project, including the world’s largest population discovered on private land of the nationally endangered Metallic Sun Orchid.

On this same project, the recording of native plant diversity, which includes over 222 species, showcases just how much life thrives in every square metre of these lands. Particularly noteworthy is the discovery of the Slender Smoke-bush, a species classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, identified during one of our project visits.

Sightings of Wedge-tailed Eagles and their nests were indicators of a healthy ecosystem, as were the myriad of woodland bird species at Alleena, whilst at Crowes Lookout we were pleased to see the presence of the Long-nosed Bandicoot and Otway Black Snail amongst the Mountain Ash as well as hearing Koalas through remote camera recording at the property for the first time.

At our Budgerum project, we remain optimistic that the conditions are desirable for the critically endangered Plains-Wanderer, we’re monitoring their presence with the hope of discovering that they’ve found a home amongst this exceptional grassland property in the coming years.

Having this foundation data puts us in such a strong position to communicate change over time and respond through our partner’s management plan to meet the needs of these ecosystems. It fills me with great confidence that our monitoring protocols are now established.

Undoubtedly, these monitoring activities are a collaborative effort, and it’s the remarkable individuals I have the privilege to work with that make this role what it is.

From the exceptional network of highly skilled volunteers who’ve rolled up their sleeves to assist with all types of fieldwork, their support and activities undertaken are spread throughout much of the data in these reports. 

To the team at Cassinia whose dedication, passion, and outstanding capabilities give us great confidence that we’re working alongside the best in the business to protect these projects, it is truly a joy working with a team so aligned on our mission of preserving nature, forever.

It is this consistent thread of collaboration that is so central to the conservation work we’re undertaking and seeing the powerful partnership between Cassinia and the Ngarrindjeri community in the Coorong is a strong example of what is possible, and I look forward to strengthening our connections and shared visions with our First Nations partners in the years to come.

My journey to Wilderlands comes on the back of many years dedicated to protecting our unique biodiversity, having dedicated 25 years to working with Trust for Nature and the Victorian Government. 

During this time, I managed threatened species and ecological community projects and conservation covenant programs to permanently protect biodiversity on private land. Recognising that up to 63% of Australian land is privately owned, protecting our remnant ecosystems is crucial for the ongoing survival of many plants and animals.

Wilderlands solution to this problem was a great driver to join the business last year.  

When I joined Wilderlands I hoped to see a way that landholders, conservation partners, and private investors could come together to protect our unique biodiversity needs and after a year in the role remain inspired that the Wilderlands approach can really make a difference.

I hope you enjoy exploring the reports for each property and delving into the details of what we have discovered and I sincerely thank you for your support of the work we’re doing at Wilderlands.

Deanna Marshall