Rewilding Australia to protect and regenerate nature
Restore, Regenerate, Rewild
Rewilding Australia unites Traditional Ecological Knowledge with modern science, to protect vulnerable wildlife and build thriving ecosystems. Many of Australia’s animals play an important role within our landscapes, as ecosystem regulators or ecosystem engineers, and are culturally important to both Aboriginal culture and the broader Australian community.
Australia is home to an incredible array of animals and plants found nowhere else in the world. Sadly, more than 1,900 plants and animals are threatened with extinction. Wildlife populations across Australia have decreased significantly due to the introduction of invasive species, habitat destruction, and a rapidly changing climate.
Our focus is to support strategies that test and scale-up methods that help reverse the decline of culturally important wildlife and move beyond just preventing further extinction toward our goal of Regenerating Nature by 2030.
By rewilding Australia, we aim to improve the resilience and adaptability of our wildlife and landscapes to current and future threats - creating a future richer for both people and nature.
We're working across three broad areas:
The last eastern quoll ever seen on mainland Australia was in the heart of Sydney in the 1960s – and then it was gone. Now only surviving in the wild in Tasmania, it’s the only one of four Australian quoll species to go extinct on mainland Australia.
But WWF-Australia is determined to change this. Our Big Quoll Goal is to have More quolls in more places by 2030. This includes working with the National Eastern Quoll Recovery Team to guide and develop recovery actions and the Eastern Quoll Captive Breeding Program Steering Committee to reintroduce animals in captivity to feral-free safe havens and eventually back to the wild.
We’re working together to create 10 eastern quoll populations across 4,300 hectares of fox and cat-free fenced safe havens, reverse local extinction, and then grow populations of eastern quolls across their former mainland range.
In Tasmania, we’re testing population supplementation strategies to bolster wild quoll populations and reverse regional declines at six study sites.
We’re also advocating for landscape-scale habitat restoration to support wild eastern quoll populations and eventually wild reintroductions on mainland Australia.
It’s all about getting more quolls in more places by rewilding what we’ve lost.
Our digging mammals perform key ecological roles by digging across our landscapes, aerating soil, burying seed and promoting germination, and cycling nutrients. This contributes to complex native plant communities and potentially even the reduction in bushfire intensity by burying flammable leaf litter.
We’re working with partners to rewild at least five ecosystem engineer species to at least five landscapes across southeastern Australia by 2030. These include the brush-tailed bettong, eastern bettong, southern brown bandicoot, long-nosed bandicoot, and the long-nosed potoroo.
But we’re not stopping with our bouncing ecosystem engineer friends! We’re also working to restore a unique subspecies of wombat - the Bass Strait Islands wombat - to lungtalanana, an Aboriginal-owned and managed island lying between mainland Australia and Tasmania. As avid burrowers, wombats have been known to provide safe havens for a range of other species in extreme temperatures and bushfires – improving the island’s resilience to future threats and restoring a cultural connection for the Traditional Owners of the island.
Some of our most iconic wildlife are sentinel species – species that stand as observers and indicators of the broader ecological health of a landscape – providing society with an early warning system to indicate when something in the environment is out of balance. Greater gliders, platypus and our frogs are sentinel species of our forests and aquatic ecosystems, and we’re developing rewilding strategies to secure their future.
The platypus – an iconic and culturally-significant animal once abundant across eastern Australia - co-existed with Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years, features in Dreamtime stories, and is a totem for several Traditional Owner groups. Habitat destruction, pollution, river infrastructure, and drought have led to its significant population decline over the past 20 years across parts of its mainland range. We’ve reintroduced 10 platypus to Australia’s first national park, Sydney’s Royal National Park, where they’ve been locally extinct for almost half a century.
We’re also working to identify strategies to ensure the persistence of threatened Gondwanan Mountain frog species, vulnerable to habitat destruction caused by a warming climate and invasive feral pigs.
And up in the trees, we’re working to better understand the threats beyond native forest logging that contribute to greater glider declines, with the ambition of testing rewilding strategies to return them to the places that were once their stronghold.