Cygnet Park Sanctuary, Kangaroo Island, is a 310-hectare former sheep-grazing property on Kangaroo Island that Bio·R manages for conservation. Across the cleared areas of the property, 350,000 tubestock of over 200 plant species were planted, complementing a mix of direct seeded natives, bringing the total to about 1,000,000 plants. This has created a woodland of high structural and floristic diversity, which now sits alongside the Cygnet River with its original riparian vegetation.
In 2002, small-scale habitat reconstruction for wildlife began, while large-scale planting took place from 2007 onwards, after learning how to most effectively and efficiently control grazing and suppress weeds. Survivorship of about 90% of tubestock was achieved by firstly fencing to prevent grazing of seedlings by kangaroos, wallabies and possums and, secondly, by scraping topsoil into windrows, with tubestock planted into the scalped soil a few weeks later, to minimise competition from weeds. This broadscale habitat reconstruction technique has been so successful on Cygnet Park Sanctuary that it has been adapted and improved for use on other sites, such as Frahns Farm, Monarto.
Community was vital to the planting outcomes achieved on Cygnet Park Sanctuary, with annual planting festivals held in June each year until the cleared areas were fully planted. In some years, over 500 volunteers helped plant about 100,000 tubestock over 50 hectares in just 3 days.
As part of Bio·R’s ongoing commitment to underpinning habitat reconstruction with sound ecological understanding, Bio·R monitors birds across the property, including an annual or biannual bird census of Cygnet Park Sanctuary. First established in 2009, these censuses indicate that the numbers of birds using the property have increased from 1000 birds to over 4000 birds in less than 10 years. Crucially, Cygnet Park Sanctuary now better provides for the endangered Glossy Black-Cockatoo. In 2009, only a few Glossy Black-Cockatoos were using the property, increasing to about 16 birds only seven years later. Following the devastating bushfires on Kangaroo Island in the summer of 2019-20, numbers of Glossy Black-Cockatoos increased to about 36 (or 8% of the population of about 450 birds), demonstrating that Cygnet Park Sanctuary is already fulfilling Bio·R’s intended purpose of creating habitat for wildlife, including species of conservation concern.
Year established: 2002
Land area: 310 hectares
Area revegetated: 175 hectares
Major aims: To re-establish: (a) populations of rare and threatened plant species; (b) populations of Drooping Sheoak – a key seed source for the endangered Glossy Black-Cockatoo; and (c) the critically endangered ecological community of Eucalyptus cneorifolia woodland.
Key threatened species: Kangaroo Island Glossy Black-Cockatoo, Western Bassian Thrush, Short-beaked Echidna, Eucalyptus cneorifolia threatened ecological community, which includes multiple threatened plant species.