A snake handler, an environmental scientist and a Yirrganydji and Djabugay Traditional Owner are just some of the outstanding locals in line for this year’s Community Champions Cassowary Award.
On 10 March the Wet Tropics Management Authority’s Cassowary Awards celebrate the numerous outstanding local contributions towards the conservation and preservation of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
Recipients will be honoured at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park across eight categories, including the Community Champions award.
Sponsored by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, this award recognises those who inspire others through their commitment and hard work in advocating for the Wet Tropics.
In 2016 the Community Champions Cassowary Award went to Peter Rowles, president of Mission Beach-based C4 (Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation) and an active volunteer and leader in local conservation in the Innisfail and Mission Beach area.
He says the award not only represented recognition from his industry peers, but assisted to increase awareness of C4’s habitat protection and land rehabilitation work.
“The award in 2016 certainly increased awareness of the work we’re doing. Since then we have focused on establishing wildlife corridors particularly in Smith’s Gap,” Mr Rowles said.
“That connectivity between the coast and tablelands is really important, so we’re working to convey to landowners the importance of allowing wildlife to travel through.”
He congratulated this year’s Cassowary Awards nominees, encouraging them to embrace a collaborative approach to their work in the Wet Tropics.
“Here in the Wet Tropics we have so many different people working across different areas. Working together is really important; we can build on each other’s achievements, learn from one another and, importantly, provide that crucial encouragement and a morale boost.
“Good luck to this year’s Cassowary Awards nominees, and congratulations on your excellent work in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area,” he said.
This year’s Community Champions nominees represent industries and locales across the Wet Tropics.
Environmental scientist Bess Murphy has advocated for and educated the public on the importance of mangroves, while Mission Beach’s Ingrid Marker has focused her efforts on changing Queensland’s dog laws to protect cassowaries.
Snake handler Brian James is nominated for his volunteer work in removing more than 1000 snakes from Babinda residences, and Gavin Singleton has been recognised for his efforts in assisting the Yirrganydji Traditional Owners to care for their land and sea country.
A full list of the Community Champions Cassowary Award nominees is below. Nominees in the remaining categories will be released in the lead-up to the 10 March Cassowary Awards.
Community Champion Award Nominees
Sponsored by Queensland Department of Environment and Science
Bess Murphy (Cairns). Bess Murphy is an environmental scientist with a particular passion for mangroves. She has actively lobbied against development at the Jack Barnes mangrove walk, organised rubbish clean-ups in mangroves systems and taught hundreds of students about the importance of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Bess also campaigns tirelessly for the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC), spearheading their drain stencilling project and Boomerang Bag project.
Evizel Seymour (Atherton). Evizel has coordinated a diverse range of stakeholders to combat Stevia ovata (candyleaf). Despite difficult terrain and the challenges of seasonal treatment windows, Evizel has been effective in engaging stakeholders in funding and implementing new treatment methods based on the latest research.
Paul Webster (Cairns). Paul Webster has worked in wildlife conservation for more than 20 years, selling the idea of conservation to people who may not traditionally be conservation-minded. He has supported the plight of the Southern cassowary through establishing regular ABC Radio segment “Conservations” as well as the establishment of World Cassowary Day. Paul’s efforts assisted funding of the Garners Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation centre as well as listing of the Cassowary on the Federal Government’s 20/20 list.
Ingrid Marker (Mission Beach). In addition to her significant efforts in changing Queensland’s dog laws to protect Cassowaries, Ingrid Marker has worked with a range of groups to deliver community education programmes around the impacts of dogs on the region, zoning for dog-free beaches as well as working with government to regulate pig hunting in the Wet Tropics.
Carole Sweatman (Cairns). Through her work as Terrain NRM CEO, Carole Sweatman has brought the industry and conservation sectors together to work together on the Reef Alliance and Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project, focussing on a united stance to achieve mutual benefits.
Liz Gallie (Mission Beach). An advocate of the World Heritage values of the Wet Tropics and its outstanding unique values, Liz Gallie has employed her strong communication skills to several websites and social media platforms to encourage the protection of Cassowaries and their habitat. Liz’s Cassowary Recognition Project has also resulting in comprehensive territory and home range mapping of this keystone species.
Brian James (Babinda). Over the past 32 years, Brian James has relocated more than 1000 snakes from Babinda residences, free of charge. Brian volunteers this service to prevent snakes from injury, and regularly visits schools and youth groups to educate teachers and students on the importance of snakes in the Wet Tropics ecosystem.
Gavin Singleton (Cairns). Gavin is a leading young Yirrganydji and Djabugay Traditional Owner. As Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement coordinator, project officer and director of Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation, he has played a major role in building the capacity of Yirrganydji Traditional Owners to care for their land and sea country in the area between Cairns and Port Douglas.