Rewilding is a relatively new conservation initiative that emerged in the late 1990s.
It is designed to restore the health of an ecosystem where native species have been lost due to predation by introduced species. On southern Yorke Peninsula, up to 95% of native mammals are locally extinct.
Return key species
The idea of rewilding is to return the key native species that previously played an important role in the functioning of the ecosystem. By bringing these species back, their activities will help to improve the health of the soil, the surrounding vegetation and ultimately, the entire habitat.
For example, Brush-tailed Bettongs were chosen as the first species for reintroduction because of their status as a soil engineer. They turn over the soil at night as they forage for fungi and this digging action helps to aerate the soil, improve water infiltration, cycle nutrients and spread seed for new plant growth.
When a key native species exists within an ecosystem, it has a flow-on effects to all other species and the habitat as a whole.
Marna Banggara is a unique rewilding initiative as the project area is not a closed reserve but part of a working landscape. The native species will be reintroduced to the existing areas of native vegetation, which neighbour farming land and townships. In fact, it is hoped that the improved ecosystem health will also benefit farmers and reinforce Yorke Peninsula as an ecotourism destination.
Key to the success of rewilding is the continued control of introduced species, like foxes and cats. Baiting and other predator control has occurred on southern Yorke Peninsula since the early 2000s. Landscape-scale baiting will continue in the project area and is supported by the predator control fence, which aims to prevent the migration of foxes and cats.