Wet Tropics high achievers honoured at Cassowary Awards

High achievers from across the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area were honoured at the Wet Tropics Management Authority’s Cassowary Awards in Cairns on 10 March.

More than 200 members of the Wet Tropics community gathered at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park for the presentation of Cassowary Awards in eight categories, from a field of 47 nominees. 

The recipients are:

  • Thorsborne Award for Community Conservation & Rehabilitation (joint winners): Rainforest Rescue & Dr Karen Coombes 
  • Tourism and Presentation Award: Small World Journeys
  • Innovation Award: Distinguished Professor William F. Laurance
  • Education Award: Holloways Beach & Tinaroo Environment Education Centres: School Science and Sustainability Enrichment Program
  • People. Country. Culture. Award: Djunbunji Land and Sea Program
  • Community Champions Award (joint winners): Liz Gallie & Gavin Singleton
  • Young Cassowary Award: Asha Mayberry
  • Local Government & Industry Initiatives Award: Cairns Regional Council’s Sustainability Team
  • Chair’s Award: Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands (TREAT)

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch congratulated all Awards recipients and nominees.

“It is wonderful to see such a vibrant and passionate community that is so dedicated to this stunning Wet Tropics World Heritage Area,” Minister Enoch said.

“Congratulations to all Cassowary Awards nominees and recipients; you can all be proud of your incredible achievements and I look forward to hearing more about your ongoing work in the Wet Tropics,” she said.

Federal Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, said the Cassowary Awards continued to highlight the international importance of the Wet Tropics.

“I am proud to see such a talented field of professionals and volunteers honoured for their contribution to this special area in our own backyard,” Mr Entsch said.

“A Cassowary Award is a prestigious honour to receive; congratulations to all nominees and recipients.”

In addition to the eight Cassowary Awards categories, Wet Tropics Management Authority chair Leslie Shirreffs presented a special Chair’s Award to Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands (TREAT).

“Every so often we come across an individual or organisation which stands out as a leader, uniting and inspiring the community behind a common goal,” Ms Shirreffs said.

“Acknowledging TREAT and their body of work over 35 years in conserving and improving the integrity of the Wet Tropics environment exemplifies everything the Cassowary Awards represents. Congratulations to TREAT, and indeed to all recipients.”

Cassowary Award Recipients

Thorsborne Award for Community Conservation & Rehabilitation | Sponsored by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service 

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


Tourism and Presentation Award | Sponsored by Skyrail Rainforest Cableway

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.

Innovation Award | Sponsored by Stanwell Corporation

Distinguished Professor 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.

Education Award | Sponsored by CQUniversity

Holloways Beach & Tinaroo Environment Education Centres: School Science and Sustainability Enrichment Program. In 2014, Holloways Beach Environmental Education Centre introduced a new program for gifted primary school students, the success of which led to its extension to the Tablelands at Tinaroo Environmental Education Centre in 2017.
The program—the first in this format in Queensland—runs across the school year, encouraging students to solve real problems in the community. Students undertake research, consult with experts in a range of fields and ultimately develop and implement projects that provide practical solutions to local environmental problems.

People. Country. Culture. Award | Sponsored by North Queensland Land Council

Djunbunji Land and Sea Program. Established by the Mandingalbay Yidinji Peoples in 2010, this program has played a key role in environmental management of the area around Grey Peaks National Park, near Yarrabah. It has implemented a traditional knowledge recording project and seasonal cultural heritage activities; established a plant nursery to assist revegetation of the Indigenous Protected Area; and collaborated in the rehabilitation of the East Trinity Environmental Reserve which will one day provide a world-class wetland reserve on Cairns’ doorstep.

Community Champions Award | Sponsored by Department of Environment & Science

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 resulted in comprehensive territory and home range mapping of this keystone species.
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.

Young Cassowary Award | Sponsored by Daintree Discovery Centre

Asha Mayberry. Local student Asha Mayberry went above and beyond with a recent grade five research project on bats, which investigated their role in the ecosystem and public attitudes. Asha raised funds for Tolga Bat Hospital and CAFNEC, and continues to volunteer her time working to educate fellow students and the public on this species’ importance to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Local Government & Industry Initiatives Award | Sponsored by Powerlink

Cairns Regional Council’s Sustainability Team. 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.

Chair’s Award

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.

Wet Tropics high achievers honoured at Cassowary Awards

Published: 11th Mar 2018

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