Improving chances of survival for our mammal emblem and unique orchid


The ACT Government’s management of Canberra’s iconic Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby and Brindabella Midge Orchid is helping prevent their extinction, new reports show.

Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti said that the five-year implementation progress reports show that the ACT Government’s action plans are improving the chances of survival for Canberra’s mammal emblem and unique orchid.

“We want to make Canberra a refuge for plants, animals and ecological communities devastated by climate change, habitat loss, bushfires and urban sprawl,” Minister Vassarotti said.

“While the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby is the ACT’s mammal emblem, it hasn’t been seen in the wild in the ACT for more than 60 years, so we are aiming to return this species into the landscape where it belongs.

“Our Southern Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby Recovery Team is currently undertaking a breeding program, which is specifically designed to improve the wallabies’ genetic robustness.

“A 120-hectare, predator-free exclosure, called Jedbinbilla, is being constructed at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and will sustain up to 200 Rock-wallabies.

“We are also conducting research to better understand the animals and their environment so we can reintroduce wallabies from this population into the wild with a better chance of survival.”

Minister Vassarotti said the conservation objective for the Brindabella Midge Orchid is the maintenance of a viable, wild population of the species.

“We know the threat of climate change, so we are looking at ways to help our environment survive,” Minister Vassarotti said.

“This critically endangered orchid is only found in a single site located in Namadgi National Park, which is why we need to protect this species before we lose it forever.  

“Our rangers on the ground are managing the threats to the species’ habitat while our conservation researchers are monitoring the orchid and habitat conditions.”

The implementation progress reports for the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby and Brindabella Midge Orchid are available on the EPSDD website.

Quotes attributable to Ian Walker, ACT Conservator for Flora and Fauna

“The protected population of Southern Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby in the Jedbinbilla safe haven at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve will act as insurance against further losses in the wild, provide animals for reintroductions and excellent opportunities for research on the ecology of this species that will help ensure its survival.

“The safe haven will also provide opportunities for community outreach and education, allowing the public to understand more about our mammal emblem.

“Over 11 years, we have been monitoring the single population of Brindabella Midge Orchid and protecting it as best we can from threats. We have seen annual increases and decreases in the number of flowers depending on the conditions, but overall, the number of plants appears to be stable over this time.

“We are continuing to support the Australian National Botanic Gardens to build up a seed bank from the wild population to facilitate important research of this critically endangered orchid and to potentially propagate or translocate plants away from Namadgi in case something happens to that population.”