Rope Ladders for Possums

Montane rainforests in far north Queensland are habitat for Australia’s most diverse assemblages of possums and gliders. All are now threatened by historical forest fragmentation and contemporary climate change, and practical efforts are urgently required to increase the mobility of rainforest mammals as they face these twin threats.

Rope ladders have been used across north Queensland to assist in the movement of a range of arboreal species that are mostly restricted to forest canopies, including the Lemuroid and Herbert River ringtails. Remote cameras confirm that these arboreal specialists are quick to find and use these structures.

Biotropica Australia has been tasked with co-ordinating the erection of a number of rope ladder projects based around the southern Atherton Tablelands. Our most recent rope ladder project is the largest yet for north Queensland and was completed during misty and wet conditions in April 2022. At 37 metres long, this ladder links South Endeavour Trust’s Misty Mountains Nature Refuge to rainforests between Millaa Millaa and Atherton – a connectivity bottleneck where animal movement has been affected by the East Evelyn Road. This new ladder sits directly beside an underpass designed to accommodate terrestrial fauna movement, installed when the road was built in the late 1990’s. It is a box-section design allowing animals to either move through the tunnel or climb along the top surface.

Ergon Energy was pivotal to the success of this project. They supplied the 14m poles and completed the erection of the ladder free-of-charge. The Deckstore in Cairns was responsible for constructing the ladder and the Qld Dept of Transport and Main Roads provided assistance with permits and engineering design. Our thanks go to these organisations for their assistance and support.