The $10 million Reef Assist program is delivering priority environmental projects and creating around 140 regional jobs for unemployed and underemployed Queenslanders in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday Great Barrier Reef catchment areas.
A total of 11 on-ground projects will be delivered in partnership with local governments and natural resource management organisations.
Work involves tackling a range of environmental issues including protecting critically endangered species habitat, rehabilitating dunes to improve resilience to natural disasters, stabilising stream and riverbanks, removing weeds and other invasive pest species, investigating ecotourism trail opportunities, developing conservation-based tourism expeditions, and undertaking revegetation works. Some projects also draw on the skills and knowledge of First Nations people to provide training and environmental management skills for Indigenous job seekers.
The priority areas were selected as they have been badly impacted by a loss of visitors as a result of COVID-19. These regions will receive an economic boost from the projects and contractors, tourism providers and local businesses will also benefit.
Projects will start soon with program partners engaging local workers and contractors.
Wet Tropics region
Wet Tropics Management Authority:
- tackle on-ground threatened species and climate resilience work in the Barron, Mulgrave and Johnstone river catchments
- create a sustainable environmental economy that will support Indigenous employment and training in the Wet Tropics.
Douglas Shire Council: rehabilitate dunes in the area to improve their resilience to natural disasters such as flooding and cyclones.
Jaragun Pty Ltd: stabilise stream banks on Babinda Creek and McPaul Creek, protect wetlands and improve wildlife corridors that link Bellenden Ker Range, the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and the Great Barrier Reef.
Terrain Natural Resource Management: revegetate riparian sites in the Johnstone, Murray and Russell catchments.
Townsville City Council: improve riparian vegetation buffers, remove weed waste and debris, and investigate opportunities for ecotourism trails across the region.
NQ Dry Tropics: partner with Indigenous job seekers to undertake landscape restoration works in the Burdekin region.
Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council:
- remediation works on two culverts on Clump Point Road to prevent sediment run-off to the Reef lagoon
- rehabilitate Frances Creek which has been impacted by sedimentation and weeds.
Mackay Whitsunday region
- use a variety of conservation and land management activities, including the control of invasive species, to improve natural habitat condition and build resilience of natural habitats
- engage the Whitsunday marine tourism industry in island and coastal environmental protection and rehabilitation works.
For more information, email ReefAssist@des.qld.gov.au.