2 Crane-friendly Fencing Decisions

Fencing for wetland conservation is being promoted in regions with significant crane habitat. For the background, and why wetland fencing can cause problems for cranes and other large waterbirds, see Crane-friendly Fencing Intro and Fencing issues and risks. Sometimes there are trade-offs or contradictions in managing wetlands for wildlife. This page offers a Decision Guide with checklists that factor cranes into wetland fencing decisions.

Feedback is welcome.

Checklist 1: Why fence?

In north Queensland, all ‘wetlands’ with shallow edges – from small farm dams to the largest floodplains – are actual or potential crane habitat.

To protect cranes and other large waterbirds, rather than the blanket approach recommended in some Plans and projects, an evidence-based approach is recommended before fencing wetlands and before excluding cattle permanently. Is fencing the only answer? What are the costs and benefits?

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Checklist 2: Safer Cattle Fencing

wetland fence

If fencing must be done close to a wetland, can it be safer than standard 4-barb?

↑ Wetland revegetation: 7-strand barb wire for permanent cattle exclusion (cranesnorth, SE Australia)

Farm dams are an important resource for cranes in many rural areas. A more crane-friendly option could be to fence off and revegetate only half the site, rotate cattle through the paddock and mark the fence; or replace at least some top strands with plain wire. Electric fencing may be feasible, but has major vegetation management issues in northern states.

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Checklist 3: Safer Feral Pig Fencing

pigmesh fence

← Wetland protection: Upper section of pigmesh fence, with top barb Lakefield National Park, Cape York Peninsula (G & J Holmes)

Feral pigs have been named as a serious threat to north Queensland wetlands and by some, as a threat to cranes specifically. Heavy mesh fencing, usually with two top and one bottom barb wire, is being trialled to exclude pigs from sensitive sites, for example by QPWS. Effective pig fencing is expensive and funding it from public or private sources is a major investment, unlikely unless the community expects to achieve a significant environmental benefit for a high priority site.

If pig fencing must be done:

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Summary: What's best for cranes?

The best solution for cranes – where fences are needed –

Fencing larger areas should be cost-effective if combined with management systems such as paddock rotation, and costs may be partly offset if fences are further from water and suffer less Wet season damage. But crane-friendly pig fencing in crane breeding areas would be very expensive – a pig mesh enclosure for one pair of Sarus Cranes would need to encircle at least 70ha.

Monitoring: Watch & learn

There are many unknown factors in the balance between wetland health, fencing costs and fauna safety. Knowledge can be improved over time through monitoring fauna use before and after fencing, logging wildlife entrapment on fences, and identifying possible fencing improvements.

Next: 3 | Safer fences»

«Fencing Intro or «Fences 1: Issues and Risks

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