Maleny STP wetlands, focus of new environmental study


Unitywater Executive Manager Infrastructure Planning & Capital Delivery Simon Taylor with USC research Professor Thomas Schlacher and USC Lecturer in Animal Ecology Dr Andrew Olds.
Unitywater Executive Manager Infrastructure Planning & Capital Delivery Simon Taylor with USC research Professor Thomas Schlacher and USC Lecturer in Animal Ecology Dr Andrew Olds.

A four-year research project has been launched to understand the types of wildlife that have been attracted to the rehabilitated wetlands at the Maleny Sewage Treatment Plant (STP).
The project will look for and then monitor all the species that return to the area, including those that are endangered.
Unitywater and the University of the Sunshine Coast have joined forces to conduct a comprehensive study which will include ecological and animal surveys focusing on frogs, birds, bats and small mammals.
Unitywater’s Executive Manager Infrastructure Planning & Capital Delivery Simon Taylor said the project follows the $17 million upgrade to the Maleny STP in March 2013 which included developing a reforestation and wetland area within the Maleny Community Precinct.
“The wetlands, which are like nature’s kidneys, help naturalise treated water from STPs while creating habitats for flora and fauna to benefit the environment and community,” Mr Taylor said.
“Through the wetlands and irrigated forest we hope to attract endangered bird species like the Regent Honeyeater and Australian Bittern as well as frog species like the Giant Barred Frog back to the site.
“We’re passionate about protecting the environment and providing a quality, sustainable community space for residents to enjoy and that’s why we’ve committed to this four-year study.”
Professor Thomas Schlacher from the University of the Sunshine Coast said the aim of this exciting research was to provide a reliable indication of the success of the wetland rehabilitation at the Maleny STP.
“As part of the study we’ll undertake a series of faunal surveys that assess the rehabilitated wetlands at Maleny against several locations with comparable landscape characteristics in the vicinity,” Professor Schlacher said.
“We’ll also actively engage the local community via participation in the surveys and related outreach activities which will be conducted by university students.”
The jointly funded research project, which is expected to cost around $150,000 over the four years, will conclude in 2018.
Mr Taylor said: “This study has long-term goals but regular progress reports will be shared by the University with the Maleny community and other interested groups.
“We believe the Maleny wetlands will increase natural diversity. By measuring and monitoring progress we will be able to transfer that knowledge to benefit other long- term projects.”