NORTHERN Rivers environment group Rainforest Rescue has only 48 hours to come up with more than $5000 if the next phase in its plan to save the endangered cassowary is to come off.

Rainforest Rescue chief executive officer Kelvin Davies said the group was $5136 short of the $112,000 it needed to buy and protect its next patch of the World Heritage Daintree Rainforest - or as the real estate agents describe it, Lot 8, Buchanan Creek Road, Cow Bay.

Cow Bay is a little more than 100km north of Cairns and occupies a section of the Daintree outside the National Park and which is nominally open for development. The area has been given a road grid with street names that could have come from a housing development anywhere in Australia - such as Silky Oak Road, Cedar Road, and Rosewood Road.

Rainforest Rescue has been working for years to buy up parcels of land in the area to prevent large-scale development and protect the cassowary's habitat. The effort also aims to protect the habitat of one of the world's last remaining species of cycad - the hope cycad, which was growing hundreds of millions of years ago, in what would eventually become the Daintree, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. Individual specimens in the Daintree are believed to be up to 1000 years old.

Development has occurred anyway, but the number of houses can be counted in the dozens rather that hundreds and they remain surrounded by the dense Daintree rainforest, which runs right up to the beach.

Mr Davies said the lot on Buchanan Creek Road was particularly important because it is one of the few left in the area that could be built on.

Adding an extra sense of urgency to the mission, Mr Davies said the lot had an existing development approval.

"If we don't buy it someone else will. But they will be more interested in clearing the land and developing it," he said.

He said Rainforest Rescue researchers had found 166 different plant species on the lot.

Click here to donate to Rainforest Rescue.

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