Wineries for ringtails

Tue, 08 Oct 2019

Properties in the Margaret River region have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to conserving the Critically Endangered Western Ringtail Possum. People don’t often think of possums as needing our help, but there are actually less western ringtail possums in the world than Bengal tigers. 

The western ringtail possum is one of Australia’s most threatened possums, and is unique to the south-west of Western Australia. Effective conservation of the possum, and biodiversity more generally, will greatly benefit from efforts by a wide range of sectors, including home gardeners and commercial properties.

Western ringtail possum. Photo: Stewart McDonald

A research project by Threatened Species Recovery Hub has been demonstrating that the private sector can and does have a significant role to play in direct actions for the possum, such as providing habitat, public awareness raising and through supporting citizen science initiatives to acquire new knowledge about the species.

The home of the western ringtail possum is also home to one of Australia’s most iconic wine regions – Margaret River Region. The vineyard and winery region is scenic and expansive, with grapevines lining many of the highways and main roads. The landscape is vastly different to what it would have been pre-colonial settlement, yet still picturesque. Additionally, there is a general ethos among the community of how important it is to conserve the natural values that draw tourists to the region.

(L-R) Sandy Wilson, Beccy Thomas, Rochelle Steven, Dave Chadwick at Passel Estate. Photo: Lisa Fairhead
Two wineries in the Margaret River Region, Passel Estate and Wills Domain are actively contributing to the conservation of the western ringtail project.

Passel Estate has designated the creek-line habitat that runs through their property as a conservation sanctuary, while Wills Domain aims to connect to patches of habitat on their property that also follow a natural waterway. Once connected, this corridor will provide a large tract of habitat for the ringtail as well as many other native species.

Suzanne Strapp by the creek bed at Wills Domain. Photo: R. Steven

These two family owned operations in the Margaret River Region are leading the way in raising awareness among their patrons about the importance of the natural environment for their business and for the possums. Indeed Passel Estate will soon commence interpretive tours in their conservation sanctuary to share information about the ringtails that call the property home.

Raising awareness of the western ringtail possum and inviting people to contribute to citizen science for the species are just the beginning of what private business can do for the conservation of our unique fauna. Conservation and business can go hand in hand, and as these two innovative wine-making families have shown, they can even enhance each other’s existence.

Suzanne Strapp from FAWNA Inc. with Rochelle Steven at Wills Domain. Photo: L. Knight

Help us understand where possums are

Another way that people and businesses in the region can help the western ringtail possum is through submitting sightings of the western ringtail and other possums through the CAUL Urban wildlife app and by raising awareness of the app.

Top image: Garden outside the Tasting Room at Passel Estate. Photo: R. Steven
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