Australia has the worst mammal extinction record in the world. In New South Wales, 14 bird species and 26 mammals have become extinct in the past 250 years.
Feral cats and foxes are the key drivers of the decline in most mammals, as well as bird, reptile and amphibian species. Feral cats alone kill more than 1.4 billion native animals each year. In New South Wales, cats – more than any other feral animal – are thought to impact 117 threatened species.
Establishing 4 new fenced areas
The plan will bring the total of fox-and-cat-free areas in NSW national parks to almost 65,000 hectares, combined with the Reintroduction of locally extinct mammals project's 3 existing fenced feral-free areas on national park estate managed in partnership with Australian Wildlife Conservancy and UNSW Sydney/Wild Deserts.
Announced in December 2020 by NSW Environmental Trust Chair and Environment Minister Matt Kean, this wildlife restoration project is one of the most significant in New South Wales' history.
Return of threatened and declining species
Establishing 4 new feral predator-free areas paves the way to return wildlife lost from our national parks due to feral cats and foxes.
More than 50 threatened species are expected to benefit, including 28 locally extinct species and more than 30 threatened species currently surviving in national parks.
The loss of native animals impacts the land. Species decline affects the overall health of ecosystems because many animals have important roles, including turning over soil, increasing water infiltration, seed and spore dispersal, and population management through predation.The new locations include New South Wales' first feral-free sites in tall wet forests in north-east and south-east NSW.
The 4 new feral predator free areas
- Western Sydney – Castlereagh or Windsor Downs Nature Reserve, fenced area approximately 500 hectares.
- Central NSW – Yathong Nature Reserve, near Cobar, fenced area approximately 40,000 hectares
- North East NSW – Ngambaa Nature Reserve, near Macksville, fenced area approximately 3000 hectares.
- South East NSW (Eden-Bombala region), estimated fenced area approximately 1500 to 2000 hectares.
Over 50 threatened species expected to benefit from the 4 new project sites. 28 locally extinct species will be returned to national parks from which they have previously disappeared, including iconic species such as:
- the bilby
- the eastern quoll
- the eastern bettong
In addition, more than 30 threatened species currently surviving in national parks will receive a major boost from the exclusion of feral animals, including bushfire affected species such as:
- the smoky mouse
- the parma wallaby
- the red-legged pademelon
- the malleefowl
The Trust's grant will support the NSW Government and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to establish 4 new feral predator-free areas, expanding the total fox and cat-free area on national park estate to almost 65,000 hectares.
Along with existing partners, NPWS will be working closely with a range of key partners, including local communities and Aboriginal groups, Rewilding Australia-WWF, universities, the Australian Government and other state governments as part of an emerging national approach to rewilding.
Reintroduction of locally extinct mammals – 3 existing feral predator-free areas
- Pilliga State Conservation Area, near Baradine North West NSW, 5800 hectares fenced area delivered in partnership with Australian Wildlife Conservancy.
- Sturt National Park, near Tibooburra Far North West NSW, two 2000 hectare fenced areas delivered in partnership with UNSW Sydney's Wild Deserts.
- Mallee Cliffs National Park, near Buronga South West NSW, 9570 hectare fenced area delivered in partnership with Australian Wildlife Conservancy.