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Proposal for a Frog-Breeding Program

in Toohey Forest (Moorooka end)
©2018 Dr Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam

There is an amphibian extinction crisis going on all over the world. There has been a
stark decline in numbers of frogs and salamanders reported from all 5 continents and
many species are threatened or have become extinct.
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According to Wikipedia:
The decline in amphibian populations is an ongoing mass
extinction of amphibian species worldwide. Since the 1980s, decreases in amphibian
populations, including population crashes and mass localized extinctions, have been
observed in locations all over the world. These declines are known as one of the
most critical threats to global biodiversity, and several causes are believed to be
involved, including disease, habitat destruction and modification,
exploitation, pollution, pesticide use, introduced species, and ultraviolet-B radiation
(UV-B). However, many of the causes of amphibian declines are still poorly
understood, and the topic is currently a subject of much ongoing research.
Calculations based on extinction rates suggest that the current extinction rate of
amphibians could be 211 times greater than the background extinction rate and the
estimate goes up to 25,000–45,000 times if endangered species are also included in
the computation.[1]
Although scientists began observing reduced populations of several European
amphibian species already in the 1950s, awareness of the phenomenon as a global
problem and its subsequent classification as a modern-day mass extinction only
dates from the 1980s. By 1993, more than 500 species of frogs and salamanders
present on all five continents were in decline. Today, the phenomenon of declining
amphibian populations affects thousands of species in all types of ecosystems and is
thus recognized as one of the most severe examples of the Holocene extinction, with
severe implications for global biodiversity.[2]

Contributing to the mass extinction of frogs is a fungal infection known as



A chytrid-infected frog
In 1998, following large-scale frog deaths in Australia and Central America, research
teams in both areas came up with identical results: a previously undescribed species
of pathogenic fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis.[37] It is now clear that many
recent extinctions of amphibians in Australia and the Americas are linked to this
fungus.[37] This fungus belongs to a family of saprobes known as chytrids that are not
generally pathogenic.
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The disease caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is called chytridiomycosis.

Frogs infected by this disease generally show skin lesions and hyperkeratosis, and it
is believed that death occurs because of interference with skin functions including
maintenance of fluid balance, electrolyte homeostasis, respiration and role as a
barrier to infections.[38][39] The time from infection to death has been found to be 1–2
weeks in experimental tests, but infected animals can carry the fungus as long as
220 days.[37] There are several hypotheses on the transmission and vectors of the
Subsequent research has established that the fungus has been present in Australia
since at least 1978, and present in North America since at least the 1970s. The first
known record of chytrid infection in frogs is in the African Clawed Frog, Xenopus
laevis. Because Xenopus are sold in pet shops and used in laboratories around the
world, it is possible that the chytrid fungus may have been exported from Africa. [42]

HUB Frog-Breeding Pilot Study

The Holistic University of Brisbane (HUB) undertook a successful frog-breeding
program in Moorooka in 2013, 2015 and 2016. Thousands of tadpoles hatched from
millions of eggs laid in slowly running streams leading into a series of small pools.
The irrigation system used gravity and no pumps. The steams from the front of the
house led around and under the house to the back garden which is forested with
several large trees (both introduced and native species).
The project had to be abandoned due to opposition from various quarters, however it
showed that several species of frog could be bred in an urban environment in
Brisbane’s suburbs (Moorooka is 10 km from the Brisbane City).
There are known to be at least 6 species of frog endemic to the Moorooka area and
Toohey Forest. Though the frogs were hard to spot, the night air was filled with their
chirps and calls, and these were of several varieties, including Green Tree Frogs,
Grass Frogs and Striped Burrowing Frogs.

Spotted Grass Frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis)

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Green Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea)

Striped Burrowing Frog (Litoria alboguttata)

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Current Frog-Breeding Measures in

Toohey Forest

These measures are inadequate, to say the least. Tadpoles are very sensitive to water quality and
the frogs lay their eggs in gently flowing water which is naturally aerated.

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Message to Steven Miles (Environment

Minister, Queensland) - Linkedin

Hi Steven

I have been developing plans for a frog-breeding and wildlife program in Toohey
Forest, which I hope you will support.

The idea centres on establishing a constant stream of running water into the old
quarry on Fernvale Track from an existing pipe feeding a water fountain on Main
Ridge Track. The south-western part of Toohey Forest does not have a creek
anymore and the wildlife has suffered from this and from shooting in the forest
which continued to the 1970s (the wallabies have been hunted into extinction).
However, in the past few years echidnas and koalas have been returned and there
have also been attempts (minor) to preserve the frog-breeding site in the quarry.
This has consisted of deepening the pool that the tadpoles live in, however it is
destined to dry up and the tadpoles die unless it rains. Usually the pond dries fully
between rain.

I am preparing a document detailing my proposal for development of the quarry site

which I will forward tp you. I have also been in discussions with the Brisbane City
Council that owns Toohey Forest (but is not looking after it very well).

I undertook a pilot project at my own expense on my property at 76 Fegen Drive,

Moorooka in 2013 and 2015 and successfully bred frogs of several species endemic
to the area. There was a decrease in numbers of Cane Toads and also an increase in
native reptile life and bird life when I ran a constant stream of water through a series
of shallow ponds and channels leading to the forested back garden. No water was
wasted, but it was too expensive for me. I also had opposition from neighbours and
the Council, though I discussed my frog-breeding program with Councillor Steve

There is an extinction crisis going on around the world, especially affecting frogs. We
need to lead the world in conservation efforts, and end our neglect of the
environment. Frogs are very sensitive indicators of environmental health and water
purity and need to be better protected.

I hope this initiative has your support.

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Toohey Forest background

Toohey Mountain and Forest are named after James Toohey, an Irish migrant who made his fortune
in the California Gold Rush. Toohey selected the lands in 1872 and his family owned it until it was
bought gradually after the war by the Brisbane City Council. The south-western end of Toohey Forest
was owned by a different Irish family that did well in the new colony. This was the Mayne Family,
descended from Brisbane’s original butcher, and major benefactors to the University of Queensland
and the Herston Medical School at which I studied in the early 1980s. The property at 76 Fegen Drive
(HUB 76) and the surrounding area was owned by the Pegg Family, who had a homestead called
‘Mayfield’ in what is now the plusher end of Moorooka. Homestead Road, Pegg’s Park and Pegg’s
Lookout are historical reminders of the Pegg Family’s influence in Moorooka.

The geology of HUB 76 is significantly different to that of Toohey Mountain and what is now the
driveway was an old river bed, judging by the eroded quartz pebbles and other rocks. There are also
orange, red and yellow ochres in the front garden, which were exposed when the irrigation project
was active. These produced beautiful coloured sands which were the floor of pools. The frogs laid
their eggs overnight when the taps were running, and the tadpoles of several species were evident
in the ponds and sandy channels.

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Toohey Mountain is the remnant of a range that was thrust up from the sea floor 380 million years
ago. Orange and red sandstone boulders that can be seen along the Main Ridge Track are remnants
of the ocean floor, when the eastern coastline was far to the west. The main rock type is quartzite in
folding bands but there is also sandstone, conglomerates and a range of other rock types. The forest
has a small creek on its northern aspect (Mimosa Creek) but south of Toohey Road (the south-
western quarter) there is no running water, though a pipe has been laid on Main Ridge Track for
people and dogs to drink when they walk along the track through degraded sclerophyll forest. The
biggest trees were felled long ago, and any creeks that ran off the mountain have dried up, while the
mountain itself was quarried.

Woollumbin (Mount Warning) shaped the geology of south-eastern Queensland and northern
coastal New South Wales. The rim of the huge volcano has eroded since its last eruption 30 million
years ago to create spectacular rainforests and waterfalls over cliffs of rhyolite. The volcano’s
remnants, which include Lamington National Park in Queensland and Border Ranges National Park in
New South Wales, reach as far north as Mount Tambourine, and do not extend to Brisbane (and
Toohey Forest) however their ecology is related in terms of fauna and flora. Brisbane also had
Riverine Rainforest and a few rainforest species survive in gullies in Toohey Forest. These could be
augmented by establishing a permanent outlet for fresh water on the southern side of the forest,
where there is presently a disused and littered quarry, and a valuable frog-breeding site that the
Brisbane City Council has finally made some efforts to conserve. The efforts are inadequate, to say
the least, but it shows that there is concern about the frog habitat and the need to preserve it – and
nurture it.

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South-western entrance to Toohey Forest. This track was completed around 2002.

Steps lead up the mountain to Pegg’s Lookout, which has recently (2015) had a protective fence
erected. There is also a park bench with views over the industrial estate of Salisbury and the
Archerfield Airport with the Teviot Mountain Range (including Mt Flinders) in the distance. On clear
days you can also see Cunningham’s Gap, that leads from the east coast to the inland Darling Downs
agricultural area.

The Teviot Range’s tallest peak is Flinder’s Peak, known as Booroongpah by the local Ugarapul
people. The Ugarapul people, whose totem animal is the Green Tree Frog regard the mountain as a
sacred site because it contains the powerful spirit Yurrangpul. Yurrang is their word for the Green
Tree Frog.

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View from Pegg’s Lookout in Toohey Forest towards the Teviot Range. The peak in the middle of the
photo is Booroongpah (Flinder’s Peak).

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There are two tracks leading from Pegg’s Lookout. The main one is the beginning of the Main Ridge
Track which leads along the main ridge of Toohey Mountain, or what is left of it after it was mined. A

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few hundred metres along Main Ridge Track is a track on the right leading down to the old quarry.
There is another track that leads straight from Pegg’s Lookout, past a small cave and along the
outskirts of the forest down to the quarry. Steps have been constructed on this track in the past year.
This quarry was in use before and during the Second World War and has interesting geology. It was
also used as a rifle range and all the wallabies in the forest were shot long ago. The biggest trees
were felled and others have been the victim of bushfires. The quarry has enormous potential for
development as an ecological asset, tourist magnet and prototype for a Cosmopolitan Green Ecology
(CGE) frog-breeding project. It may also serve as a prototype for a system to prevent future flood in
Brisbane, as I will explain.

Brisbane is built on the bend of the Brisbane River on a flood plain. There have been several major
floods, the last in 2012, when delay in releasing water from the over-full Wivenhoe Dam resulted in
the flood (which had been warned about by the Wivenhoe engineers). The Brisbane River has been
polluted over the years and there are few fish in it unlike 200 years ago. Judiciously running water
from forested areas into the creeks that feed the river will help unblock the drains and pipes and
also clean the river. This project needs to be done with care and according to sound ecological and
environmental principles, focused on a minimum of poisons and maximum of native biodiversity.
The HUB Ecological Plan for Toohey Forest could serve as a model for future environmental
developments aimed towards greening Australia and mitigating against future floods by establishing
a network of channels to divert floodwaters though regenerated forest and bushland. This will also
allow a recovery of Brisbane’s original Riverine Rainforest, which is currently under threat.

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View from the northern end of the quarry, where the water flows in a short-lasting waterfall after
heavy rain. The water drains downhill and pools in the southern end of the quarry, though some also
flows into the gully leading down to the industrial area. I have been observing the quarry for 10
years, since I have been living in Moorooka. One thing that I noticed 10 years ago was an overseas
shipping container in the quarry, which was removed about 8 years ago. There is also a mimosa
species common in Asia (shy weed) which grows along the unsealed road that leads up to the quarry.
I have also noticed carnivorous sundews growing near the cliff where the water collects after the
rain. I have never seen vehicles and the road is closed to the public, however there are small piles of
rubble as well as broken bitumen removed from roads. This is presumably to surface the tracks.

The area where the water pours into the quarry after the rain is littered with sharp rusted pieces of
metal which have been there for the past 10 years. They are a danger to health and it is surprising
that the BCC has not made an effort to remove them and clean up the area. It is a sign of the neglect
that the southern end of Toohey Forest has suffered.

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Rusted metal refuse that has been at the “waterfall” for 10 years.

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This cliff has a short-lived waterfall after the rain. This could be made permanent by running water
constantly from the tap at the top of the hill (on Main Ridge Track). It would be a scenic and tourist
attraction and if the water is managed well could be a haven for kingfishers and other birds. If a
series of frog-breeding ponds is established it could be a prototype for conservation efforts and
counter threats to biodiversity.

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The Brisbane City Council’s unsuccessful frog-breeding program under pressure from the
Queensland Frog Society that have long lobbied to do something about this breeding site.

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There known to be at least 6 species of native frog in Toohey Forest. Several frog species were
successfully bred at the HUB 76 frog-breeding project in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

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The deepened pond is already almost dry. There are a few tadpoles in it, no vegetation and lots of
bees enjoying the moisture.
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Cosmopolitan Green Ecology (CGE)

The HUB Ecological Project

CGA in 2015

The HUB Ecological Project is based on the principles of sustainability and promoting biodiversity. It
includes Dr Romesh’s Bird Sanctuary, the HUB Frog-Breeding Project and the HUB Mini-Zoological
Gardens as well as the Cosmopolitan Green Architecture (CGA) and HUB Irrigation Project. The
ecological project completely disavows pesticides and other poisons and aims to produce a pure,
harmonious environment with clean, fresh air and gently flowing water running through a series of
picturesque ponds in which the several species of frog endemic to the area can breed all year round.
Rather than lawn, the project has allowed the garden to grow wild and free, with introduced species
as well as indigenous Australian species of plant for both canopy and shade, as bird, bee and
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butterfly-attracting plants and for their aesthetic value. The trees that were already on the property,
which are of both native and introduced species have been allowed to grow without artificial
fertilization or pesticides. They are all very healthy and provide a playground and hunting ground for
several species of bird and lizard.

It is our firm belief that seeing plants and greenery is good for the health. Growing a variety of plants
is good for the health, as well as health of the planet. Many plants are good for the health when
consumed and these can be planted in the garden using cosmopolitan and utilitarian principles.

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This house was built around 1943 by American soldiers during the Second World War, when
Brisbane served as a command centre for the Pacific War. Much of the suburb of Moorooka,
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including the site of HUB and the HUN HQ, were rented to the US military, and many worker’s
cottages were built out of asbestos, with asbestos walls, ceiling and roof. It is not that they did not
know that asbestos fibres cause lung fibrosis and cancer – this had been known since the 1920s.
However, asbestos is cheap, strong and fire-resistant. Intact asbestos sheets are not dangerous –
only the broken fibres. Most of the asbestos houses and roofs have been replaced by fibro or brick in
Moorooka, and this includes almost all the houses in Fegen Drive, on which HUB 76 is located. This is
a winding road that connects Beaudesert Road with Mayfield Road, which leads from Pegg’s Park to
the Moorvale Shopping Centre. Fegen Drive was named posthumously after an Irish ship’s captain
who went down with his ship in the Atlantic in 1942 by the name of Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen.
Fegen was awarded the Victorian Cross for bravery by King George the Sixth, the father of the
current Queen Elizabeth the Second. Fegen’s sacrifice for the British Empire prompted the Prime
Minister and former War Minister, Winston Churchill to declare on one of his radio broadcasts that
Captain Fegen’s sacrifice showed that the Irish were not that bad after all. This bit of history provides
some background to understand the peace-making, harmony-creating, life-creating and green
initiatives of the Holistic University of Brisbane (HUB) and the Holistic University Network (HUN).

HUB 76 after the garden and landscaping were destroyed in 2015:

The landscaping and frog ponds were destroyed by my father’s workmen in 2015, after I was locked
up at the Princess Alexandra Hospital for “running my taps and flooding my yard” and “digging
trenches in my garden”. The trees and shrubs I had planted were all removed, even the ones distant
from the house. The excuse given was that “the Council wanted the land cleared”.

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This is what was destroyed in October 2015. Numerous trees and shrubs were removed (and
presumably sold) – some were in full flower - and included Grevilleas, Wattles, a Gum Tree, several
Pine Trees and Frangipani Trees, a Banyan Tree and the large Philadendron that had been growing
on the Royal Poinciana Tree in the front for decades. The fern garden and rock garden were
destroyed and the tap sealed.

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This gum tree (Eucalyptus) was chopped down by my father’s workmen in 2015 (it had reached
about 4 metres in height), when the garden and landscaping I had done was bulldozed. The house
was also emptied of my possessions and I was locked up as a mental patient at the Princess

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Alexandra Hospital. The accusation was that I was “flooding my yard” and “building trenches” in my
garden! I thought the rock pools and frog-breeding project had been very successful and I was
proud of my achievement, but I had to stop the project.

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This is what the front garden looked like when I was allowed to leave the hospital in November 2015.
I was devastated.

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After the 2015 vandalism I tried breeding frogs again and re-established my irrigation system and
frog-breeding program in 2016. This time I tricked the water more slowly through a new series of
channels that I dug with a spade and no machinery. I was again successful in breeding a variety of
frog species and a Green Tree Frog even came into my kitchen. The night air was full of the sounds of
frogs. I loved this, but it was ‘noise’ to my neighbours, and I have to admit that frogs can be noisy.
This should not be a problem in Toohey Forest, where the visitors appreciate the sound and sight of

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Toohey Forest geology and botany

After-effects of a bushfire or a council burn-off. Rainforest does not burn, sclerophyll forest does.
The main preventable problem with bushfires, though, is arson. The pattern of burnt trees suggests
that this fire, about 15 years ago spread from the factory area south of the council’s land (Toohey

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Toohey Forest Park is about 260 hectares in size and located 10 km from the Central Business District
(CBD) of Brisbane. It adjoins land owned by Griffith University which has and EcoCentre that teaches
about the ecology of Toohey Forest. The land adjoining the university Is much better maintained
than the land south of Toohey Road, which divides the northern and southern sections of the park.
Most of the park is not shown in green on the Google street map of the area.

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Course sandstone boulder with a variety of lichens growing on it. The bedrock of the Main Ridge
Track contains occasional boulders of bright orange sandstone also seen at Mount Barney (where
they are known as Mt Barney beds). This is the remnant of the ocean floor from 380 million years
ago. There are also larger boulders of sandstone, covered in lichens on the southern side of the park.
However there are few animals and birds. The Brisbane City Council’s information sheet claims that
there are over 400 species of plant and animal including 75 species of bird, but the biodiversity of
the area has suffered over the years, and much can be done to improve it. This especially so on the
southern side of the park where there is no flowing water.

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The biggest trees were felled long ago and the remaining trees are not that big. Regenerating the
forest to its former glory will take decades of good management.

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Orange sandstone boulder.

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A victim of fire.

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Entrance to the Quarry. The quarry is a desolate place, littered and neglected. It used to be used as
a shooting range, but has a fascinating geological structure. There is a quarzite cliff in the north side
of the quarry, and folded sandstone sheets on the side of the southern side. The water pools
alongside the cliff and drains across the road into a gully on the right side of this photo, though some
also collects in the small temporary pool that the Brisbane City Council has deepened and erected a
barrier around.

The middle of the quarry is used to store small piles of road surfacing materials, including broken
pieces of bitumen. This will not be good for the water quality that the frogs need to breed
successfully in. The rest of the quarry has grasses, both native and introduced growing wild and a
few wattles and she-oaks. The biodiversity of the area and of the gully where the water currently
flows could be enhanced by introducing appropriate rainforest and marshland species.

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The development of the quarry site could be done in stages. The first stage is to

1. Clean the area of litter, notably the broken metal

2. Arrange for a constant stream of water to flow into the quarry along the existing and natural
drainage routes.
3. Landscape the quarry to maximise the breeding habitats of frogs.
4. Introduce appropriate plant species once the water supply is established.

Cliff Frog pond

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Thanks for reading my proposal.

I can be contacted for further details on

Dr Romesh Senewiratne-Alagaratnam Arya Chakravarti

Cosmopolitan Green Ecology (CGE)

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