The Peppies for Possums project aims to improve the conservation of the Western Ringtail Possum (WRP) and to encourage community members to become actively involved with management of habitat for the Western Ringtail Possum.
GeoCatch initiated the ‘Peppies for Possums Project’, which was launched by the Hon Dr Judy Edwards, Minister for the Environment in October 2005. The project has been ongoing since then, achieving its aims through community awareness raising and involvement, planting Peppies (Agonis flexuosa) and native understorey to provide food and habitat and working with industry, local government and community groups, particularly the Western Ringtail Action Group (WRAG) on initiatives to protect the WRP.
In 2018 GeoCatch have been fortunate to secure funding support from the State NRM program to continue working on WRP conservation through community engagement, to raise awareness on protecting local WRP populations. The project will engage communities between Capel and Dunsborough to participate in the following strategies to protect WRPs in the Geographe Catchment:
- Implement on ground actions to enhance existing WRP habitat and provide strategic habitat linkages through habitat planting days at local primary schools;
- Improve understanding and awareness of WRPs in the catchment through a citizen science, whole of community possum tally. This will be the third annual WRP tally for the catchment. Continuing to collect this data will improve our understanding of WRP distribution in the catchment and track changes over time. The tally will also target core known habitat of WRPs at holiday camps between Busselton and Dunsborough.
- Raise community awareness of the protection of WRPs through delivery of night walk events.
- Development of a behavioural change project to foster responsible pet ownership in local communities to decrease the threat of predation of WRPs by domestic pets (cats in particular), in partnership with WRAG and local vets.
Some of our Peppies for Possums project achievements so far include:
- Implemented the Western Ringtail Possum (WRP) Management Plan for Provence including school and community awareness and habitat enhancement.
- Developed and implemented a WRP tourism program including WRP posters, brochures and night walk series.
- Increased community awareness and engagement through regular WRP night walks, WRP workshops, possum box installation, community and school planting days, WRP focus incursions at local schools, supporting Western Ringtail Action Group (WRAG), representation at community events and maintaining an ongoing media presence.
- Created habitat through infill planting and concentrated revegetation effort in conjunction with schools at Busselton Shire Reserve 5021.
- Worked collaboratively to build and create partnerships to further protect the WRPs, particularly through the WRAG group.
- Supported WRAG to develop WRP information signs for the community.
- Developed curriculum – linked WRP resources for schools.
- Provided professional learning for teachers on WRP resources.
- Delivered annual WRP citizen science Tally and reported results to the community.