A competitive field of 11 nominees will vie for the Wet Tropics Management Authority’s Cassowary Award named after late conservationist Margaret Thorsborne.
The Thorsborne Award for Community Conservation and Rehabilitation is sponsored by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, and recognises contributions to the improvement of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area’s natural values.
The recipient will be announced at the Wet Tropics Management Authority’s Cassowary Awards at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park on 15 June.
Wet Tropics Management Authority Executive Director, Scott Buchanan, said nominees included farmers, Indigenous rangers, researchers and community groups, honouring Margaret Thorsborne’s dedication to conservation in the World Heritage Area.
“Margaret Thorsborne dedicated her life to conservation and advocated strongly for the World Heritage-listing of the Wet Tropics,” he said.
“She was a true warrior for conservation efforts in the region, and the fact that this award has our largest field of nominees shows that Margaret’s conservation legacy continues to thrive in the Wet Tropics.
“Congratulations to each of this year’s nominees—your nomination in this category represents peer recognition of your hard work,” he said.
Kuranda’s Bulmba Rangers are nominated for their work in tackling the issue of yellow crazy ants on their country, which involved ongoing surveys, weed control and revegetation projects.
Tableland farming family the Bonadios are nominated in recognition of their revegetation of a 20-hectare Mabi forest corridor along the Barron River.
Researchers also feature prominently among nominees. Dr Jarrah Wills is nominated for his work on the impacts of myrtle rust, Dr John Winter earned a nod for his career dedicated to protecting habitat for the yellow-bellied glider, and Dr Conrad Hoskins is nominated for his work identifying more than 20 frogs, skinks and geckos in the Wet Tropics.
Bonadio Partnership is run by a local farming family who go above and beyond in a bid for conservation on the Atherton Tableland. They have successfully revegetated around 20 acres of critically endangered Mabi forest on their land along the Barron River to create the Mabi Wildlife Reserve, a 1.5km corridor which protects the endemic and endangered fauna and flora found in Mabi forest. The corridor allows animals to move up and down the river, reducing interbreeding in fragmented pockets and improving biodiversity.
Buda-dji Aboriginal Corporation (Bulmba Rangers)
A dedicated team of Indigenous rangers based in Kuranda, the Bulmba Rangers are focussed on achieving environmental and social outcomes. The rangers have established meaningful partnerships with community groups and government to address significant threats to their traditional country and the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area—including yellow crazy ants. To ensure the conservation and rehabilitation of their country, the Bulmba Rangers undertake on-ground surveys as well as weed control and revegetation.
Cairns Regional Council: Natural Assets Management Department (North)
For almost 30 years, the Cairns Regional Council’s Natural Assets Management Department (North) team has worked to preserve the area’s biodiversity through revegetation, weed control and feral animal management. The team is committed and passionate about conserving the natural environment, with its focus on innovation recently demonstrated through an improved method of controlling thunbergia.
While many would know Campbell Clarke through his various roles with the Wet Tropics Management Authority over the past 18 years, his commitment to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area has always been evident above and beyond any employed hours. Campbell’s passion for conservation extends from long-term involvement in community revegetation projects to championing the need for rainforest connectivity, to ensure the threats of fragmentation are not ignored.
Dr Sigrid Heise-Pavlov
Dr Sigrid Heise-Pavlov, better known as Siggy, has been involved in tropical rainforest research and conservation for over 20 years. Siggy has been actively involved in the research and conservation of tropical rainforests in Far North Queensland and currently works with the School for Field Studies. With the support of a passionate group of locals, Siggy engaged the Wet Tropics Management Authority and Department of Environment and Science along with a number of other stakeholders to champion a project to clean up illegally dumped rubbish from multiple locations along the Gillies Range Road. The project resulted in a media and social media campaign to change behaviours, and the delivery of several innovative on-ground interventions including remote surveillance.
Dr Conrad Hoskin
In the 20-plus years he has worked in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, Dr Conrad Hoskin has greatly expanded our understanding of its biodiversity, particularly through identifying species that were unknown when the Area was listed. Conrad has found, named, described or redescribed over 20 species of frog, skink and gecko and has campaigned to have many species included in Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
Dr Jarrah Wills
Dr Jarrah Wills has significantly contributed to the understanding of the impacts of myrtle rust through his work mapping its spread in the Wet Tropics. His work identified higher rates of infection than previously thought, including in remote locations that were not previously known to have been infected. Through his academic, yet practical, research he demonstrates creativity and innovation and is emerging as a future leader in tropical forest ecology.
Dr John Winter
For more than 40 years, leading ecologist Dr John Winter has worked to protect and conserve vertebrates in north-east Queensland. John’s knowledge, persistence and leadership through his involvement in numerous projects have led to the protection of essential habitat for many endemic species in the Wet Tropics. He is active in many conservation groups, and leads citizen science projects on the behaviour and habitat use of the endangered northern yellow-bellied glider.
North Queensland Land Management Services
North Queensland Land Management Services (NQLMS) is a versatile and experienced land management organisation that has been integral to a range of projects in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Its work has included restoration of Mabi forest, eradication of yellow crazy ants and invasive weed management. NQLMS employs local people, is committed to employing and training Indigenous workers and is an integral part of the local conservation community.
Girringun Native Plant Nursery
Over the last eight years the Girringun Native Plant Nursery has used traditional knowledge to collect and grow native plants to revegetate the traditional country of the nine tribes within the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation area. Despite ongoing challenges to fund the nursery, it continues to thrive and supply plants to revegetation projects, landscapers, nurseries and the general public, with all sales benefiting the protection and restoration of Indigenous Protected Areas.
Yungaburra Landcare Group Inc.
The Yungaburra Landcare Group Inc. is a community-based, non-profit organisation run by volunteers which aims to enhance, preserve and conserve the natural heritage and environmental resources of the south-eastern Tinaroo Dam catchment. The group’s main project is the revegetation and restoration of Peterson Creek’s riparian zone on the fringe of urban land in Yungaburra, having planted thousands of trees and created a walking track to provide access for the public to enjoy this special environment.