A $65.6m funding commitment by the Queensland Government yesterday to improve the environment of the Great Barrier Reef catchment area has been welcomed by the Wet Tropics Management Authority.
Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs, the Honourable Meaghan Scanlon, made the announcement while visiting an Indigenous ranger program in Yarrabah, which was established under the Queensland Government’s Reef Assist program in 2020. The funding includes an additional $9 million for Reef Assist.
Through the Reef Assist program, there has already been 180 fulltime, part-time and casual jobs created that involved working on projects to improve water quality flowing from the Great Barrier Reef catchment.
The Authority’s Chair, Chrissy Grant, said: “This round of funding is welcome news and is a step in the right direction to continue to build resilience in both our environment and our regional economies.”
The Authority facilitated two projects with $3.245 million under the first two rounds of Reef Assist funding, which Ms Grant said proves funding environmental management and restoration directly stimulates regional economies.
“This work is vital to protect the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, considered one of the planet’s most significant biodiverse places, which is part of the catchment of the Great Barrier Reef.”
“This is a unique part of the world, two World Heritage sites side by side and are interconnected, which the people of this region rely on for our economic livelihood.”
“With the funding we secured in Reef Assist one and two, we were able to create 55 jobs in and around the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, of which over a third were Indigenous youth.”
“Over 70 percent of the wages from these jobs was spent locally, and over 90 regional businesses were also supported with the funding of the two projects we facilitated.”
The two projects completed by the Wet Tropics Management Authority involved a successful ecological research project at Lake Morris, partnering James Cook University with Traditional Owners, upscaling forest restoration works on the Atherton Tablelands and establishing three Indigenous Ranger programs in Yarrabah, Goldsborough and Misty Mountain regions.
“These three ranger programs which now have ongoing funding means we are keeping Traditional Owners on Country, managing their Country using Traditional Knowledge combined with the required qualifications to operate as a ranger.”
The Authority’s two projects have resulted in:
A significant reduction in marine debris entering the Great Barrier Reef through regular clean-up activities and supporting the Reef Clean Project being delivered by Tangaroa Blue.
Approximately 25 hectares of invasive weeds removed and treated in the Barron, Mulgrave, and Johnstone catchments.
Five hectares of riparian zones revegetated with native tree species in non-productive farming land, improving bank stabilisation and key wildlife corridors for iconic threatened species of the Wet Tropics region.
Threatened species and terrestrial vertebrate refugia monitoring in higher altitudes combining western scientific practices with Traditional Knowledge systems to better understand the health and climatic impacts on the Wet Tropics forest systems.
Cultural heritage survey and mapping activities and ongoing land management activities with key project partners, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
Management and protection of eucalypt woodlands through culturally appropriate fire management.
A variety of conservation and land management training units and certifications including Work Health and Safety, chainsaw use, water testing, plant identification, and fire management.