Wet Tropics champions recognised at 18th Cassowary Awards

The work of people and organisations that have contributed to conserving, protecting and raising awareness about the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (the Area) was recognised last night at the 18th Cassowary Awards.

More than 170 people enjoyed the gala event at TANKS 3 at the Cairns Botanical Gardens where 10 awards were presented for leaders in the fields of conservation and rehabilitation, tourism, innovation, education and climate change.

Hosted by the Wet Tropics Management Authority (the Authority), the Cassowary Awards are the are the only awards program in Australia to recognise excellence in community contributions to world heritage management.

The Authority’s Chair Leslie Shirreffs said the Cassowary Awards were a night to gather and pay tribute to champions of the Wet Tropics.
“These are people who work tirelessly towards not only protecting and promoting the Outstanding Universal Value of the Area, but also helping us build resilience into this unique and special place to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate,” she said.

“Choosing the 10 winners from the 40 nominees was no easy task as each of the nominees are valued and important members of the Wet Tropics community. Many of these people have dedicated years and even decades to ensuring the Area thrives for generations to come.”

Awards went to a range of people, from those who work at a grassroots level in the Wet Tropics, such as the Peter Hitchcock Community Champion Award recipient, Adrian ‘Golly’ Watson whose work in conservation, rehabilitation and education in the Daintree has earned him the moniker the ‘cassowary whisperer,’ to large multi-agency projects like the Climate Change Leadership Award recipient, the Tropical Mountain Plant Science Collaboration.

Established in 2017, this project is securing the future of Australia’s climate-threatened tropical mountain-top plants by building a multi-strategy conservation reserve to ‘backup’ at-risk wild populations and support research, display and education. Project collaborators include the Western Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG), ANBG National Seed Bank, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, PlantBank, the Authority, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and multiple herbariums and botanical gardens across the country.

“Collaboration is key to the Wet Tropics being able to not only survive the impacts of climate change, but to also flourish for future generations, whether it is working with researchers, Traditional Owners or other agencies,” Ms Shirreffs said.

The Chair’s Award was given to Tourism Tropical North Queensland, for its work promoting sustainable tourism in the Area and for its participation in initiatives to pursue climate resilience for the Wet Tropics as a partner in the regional Green and Blue Stimulus initiative. More than 20 different organisations from throughout the region contributed to the Green and Blue initiative.

The 18th Cassowary Award winners for each category are:

  1. Thorsborne Award for Community Conservation and Rehabilitation: Lisa O’Mara
  2. Tourism and Presentation: Kuranda Visitor Centre
  3. Innovation and Research: Dominic Chaplin
  4. Education: Jodie Creek
  5. People Country Culture: Barry Hunter
  6. Peter Hitchcock Community Champion: Adrian Watson
  7. Government and Industry Initiatives: Tablelands Regional Council Community Revegetation Nursery
  8. Climate Change leadership: Tropical Mountain Plant Science Collaboration
  9. Young Cassowary Award: Mission Beach State School
  10. Chair’s Award: Tourism Tropical North Queensland
Wet Tropics champions recognised at 18th Cassowary Awards

Published: 19th Jun 2021

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