Final Cassowary Awards nominees revealed

A world-renowned tree-kangaroo expert, a cane farmer and an ecologist who has published more than 600 articles are amongst the final Cassowary Awards nominees announced today.

The Wet Tropics Management Authority will host the Cassowary Awards at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park on 10 March, recognising contributions made towards the conservation and preservation of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Nominees were today announced across four more awards categories: Tourism and Presentation; Innovation; Local Government and Industry Initiatives; and the Thorsborne Award for Community Conservation and Rehabilitation.

Wet Tropics Management Authority executive director Scott Buchanan congratulated all nominees ahead of Saturday’s Awards event.

“This year’s field of nominees across all eight categories was extremely competitive, as shown by the total of 48 nominees.

“While only one Cassowary Award is presented per category, the excitement around nominations reaffirms our belief that this event is about recognising a range of contributions as well as the ultimate Awards recipients.

“Thank you to all those in the community who took the time to nominate their peers throughout the Wet Tropics region, and we look forward to celebrating with you on Saturday night,” he said.

A full list of nominees is available below.

Recipients will be announced at the Wet Tropics Management Authority’s Cassowary Awards this Saturday, 10 March at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park in Cairns.


Thorsborne Award for Community Conservation And Rehabilitation

Sponsored by Queensland Parks And Wildlife Service

Recognising outstanding contributions to the improvement of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area’s natural values, including the protection and rehabilitation of flora, fauna and other natural landscape elements in the Area.

Liz Gallie. Liz is an active member of the Mission Beach community, devoting her time to promote the values of the Wet Tropics to locals and visitors to the area. Liz founded Mission Beach Cassowaries in 2013 and in 2017 coordinated the inaugural Mission Beach Community Cassowary Festival.

Brettacorp Inc. Brettacorp is a not-for-profit community association committed to expanding and enhancing habitat for endangered and threatened species in the Cassowary Coast region. Since 2015 Brettacorp has planted more than 10,000 trees, operating with the mantra “build it and nature will come.”

Rainforest Rescue. As a not-for-profit organisation, Rainforest Rescue works tirelessly to secure improved conservation outcomes for the Wet Tropics. They have led the buying back and removal of development rights on more than 25 blocks of land north of the Daintree River, and restored and rehabilitated rainforest on these and other sites.

Jen Maloney. Jen is a marine biologist who volunteers at the Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre. Jen led the development of guided eco tours of the Centre, documented new species for the Island’s fauna list and has worked tirelessly to care for injured fauna.

Dr Karen Coombes. Karen has cared for and rehabilitated tree-kangaroos for almost 20 years, and in 2012 established the Tree Roo Rescue and Conservation Centre near Malanda. Karen is an international authority on the species, running education and awareness programs and supporting Queensland zoos to establish breeding colonies.

Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands (TREAT). TREAT is a non-government conservation group which assists Queensland National Parks at its Lake Eacham Nursery and undertakes extensive revegetation work on the Tablelands. The group provides opportunities for volunteers to do on-ground conservation work as well as providing opportunities for its members and local communities.

Douglas Shire Council – Hiptage Control Program. Hiptage is listed as one of the world’s worst 100 invasive weed species, posing a significant threat to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Douglas Shire Council’s Control Program has halved the Mossman River catchment’s infestation size in the past 10 years and prevented any further spread.

Johnstone Ecological Society. The Johnstone Ecological Society is a community-based conservation group in Innisfail. The group is committed to the retention of wildlife habitat in good condition, supporting programs across the region as well as their own revegetation and rehabilitation projects, including Loth Park and Bulguru Swamp.

Kelvin Davies. For more than 25 years Kelvin has dedicated his career to habitat conservation and revegetation in the Wet Tropics, through his work with Rainforest Rescue and the Australian Rainforest Foundation. In 2015 his efforts were instrumental in establishing Rainforest Trust Australia.


Tourism and Presentation

Sponsored by Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

Recognising contributions to tourism and the presentation of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Nominee contributions include dedication to promoting the Area’s values within and outside of the industry and providing information or interpretive products that benefit the industry.

Wait a While Rainforest Tours. For 35 years Wait a While Rainforest Tours has introduced tourists to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area with small, low-impact group tours on managed trails. Guides share their knowledge with the support of new technologies, including tablets and thermal imaging cameras.

Small World Journeys. Students from across the globe have experienced the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area with Small World Journeys. Mock conservation debates, tree-planting activities and experiences with Rainforest Aboriginal guides assist to convey to their student groups the importance of the Area, while the organisation also buys small rainforest plots on the behalf of each group.

Kuranda Visitor Information Centre. The Kuranda Visitor Information Centre welcomed almost 100,000 people in the past year, providing interpretive information for tourists to explore the rainforests surrounding Kuranda. In 2017 a self- guided nature walk project was completed in collaboration with Kuranda Envirocare to enhance interpretation and understanding of the rainforest.

Gerard and Terese Puglisi, Sweet Farm Tours. Fourth-generation Mossman sugarcane—and more recently cocoa—farmers Gerard and Terese established the Australian-first Sweet Farm Tours in 2014, to teach tourists about how innovative farming practices can co-exist with the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Liz Gallie. As part of her important conservation work in the Mission Beach area, Liz has also worked to communicate the region’s points of difference to help develop a tourism pro le based on the southern cassowary and natural environment. In 2016 Liz developed the Mission Beach Naturally promotional booklet to assist this cause.



Sponsored by Stanwell Corporation

Recognising original, inventive and investigative contributions and achievements that have improved or advanced understanding and management of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Nominees include those who have carried out innovative research, developed applications or applied GIS or other programs in new ways to present or manage world heritage values.

Distinguished Prof William F. Laurance. Distinguished Professor William Laurance from James Cook University Cairns is a world-leading ecologist and rainforest biologist, and has authored eight books and more than 600 scientific and popular articles. In the 1980s he was a leading advocate for the formal listing of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, and continues his advocacy through ongoing research and leadership in this  field.

Ingrid Marker. Ingrid has championed the protection of the southern cassowary for 28 years, and her tireless advocacy led to the eventual change in Queensland’s dog laws to minimise dog attacks on cassowaries. Ingrid coordinated World Cassowary Day 2017 and works with Garners Beach Cassowary Rehabilitation Centre.

Dr Karen Coombes – Tree Roo Rescue & Conservation Centre (TRRCC). Since establishing the TRRCC in 2012, Karen has continued her work to educate the public on the Lumholtz tree-kangaroo’s plight. Karen launched Tree Roo Awareness Week in 2015 and continues to work with television, radio, magazine and newspaper crews to disseminate current, accurate and relevant information across the globe.

Liz Gallie. Liz has for the past 10 years volunteered her skills to lend a strong voice for conservation e orts in the Mission Beach area. Liz initiated the buyback of an important block of land, contributed to high-quality publications including the “Mission Beach Cassowaries - Recovery or Extinction” booklet and the “Mission Beach – Naturally” tourism promotion booklet as well as coordinating the inaugural Mission Beach Community Cassowary Festival in 2017.

Carole Sweatman. As chief executive of Terrain NRM since 2010, Carole has been instrumental in building the Reef Alliance and GBR Water Science Taskforce Report. Carole recognises that the Wet Tropics is both committed to and capable of delivering real outcomes in this area, and has also led Terrain NRM to coordinate the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project on behalf of the Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership, Australian Banana Growers’ Council, local government, community groups, consultants, investors and researchers.


Local Government & Industry Initiatives

Sponsored by Powerlink

Recognising the contributions of local governments, infrastructure service providers and industry in the Wet Tropics region. Nominees’ achievements include significant contributions to sustainable land use planning and practices, natural resource management, infrastructure provision and public campaigns in and around the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Cairns Regional Council. Cairns Regional Council’s Sustainability Team aims to build appreciation of World Heritage values by highlighting the connection between environmental stewardship and urban sustainability. The team organises the annual Cairns ECOfiesta, which draws more than 10,000 people to celebrate and promote sustainable local environments. They also provide support for regular community clean-ups and provide a range of grants to support community environment initiatives.

Gerard Puglisi – Puglisi Farming. Gerard has committed to reducing his Mossman farm’s impact on the local environment and Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Gerard complements his farm’s sugar cane crop with a cocoa crop, allowing the use of all available land, while its sustainability practices made the farm the first in Mossman to gain “Smart Cane” accreditation. It was also the first in Queensland to join Bonsucro, a global body dedicated to reducing environmental and social impacts of cane production.

Douglas Shire Council – Hiptage Project. The Douglas Shire Council’s Hiptage Project has continually referred back to science to assess performance and fine-tune techniques in the management of this invasive weed. From trialling herbicides and application methods to testing of seed dispersal methods, the project’s attention to continuous improvement means that with persistence, this invasive species could be eradicated completely from the Shire.

Douglas Shire Council – Yalanji Cemetery. In 2016 the Douglas Shire Council, in consultation with Kuku Yalanji Elders, upgraded a causeway to improve access to the Mossman Gorge community cemetery. Collaborating on the project through its Bama Working Group, which provides for collaboration with the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Bama, Council’s delivery of an updated causeway demonstrated its commitment to engaging with Traditional Owners to meet their aspirations for Douglas Shire.

Final Cassowary Awards nominees revealed

Published: 06th Mar 2018

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