23 April, 2021
Landholders seek out voluntary declarations to better protect rainforest land
Far Northern landholders who love their patch of rainforest are signing up to better protect it in the future.
Long-time Kuranda resident Susan Doherty is one of them – she recently sold her land with “peace of mind” after placing a conservation agreement over it with help from Kuranda Envirocare and Terrain NRM.
“I’ve been surrounded by beautiful regenerative rainforest for 28 years and during that time I’ve regularly seen people buying blocks and dropping trees,’’ Ms Doherty said.
“I want to make sure that doesn’t happen on this piece of land. It’s well worth preserving.”
Kuranda Envirocare is helping landowners to apply for voluntary declarations – agreements under the Queensland Government’s Vegetation Management Act that protect areas of privately-owned native vegetation with high conservation values.
The organisation’s Cathy Retter said the movement was gaining momentum.
“We’ve helped with five voluntary declaration applications recently and we have interest now from another six landholders,’’ she said. “Kuranda is at a bottleneck in the world heritage area, with just a narrow corridor connecting the northern and southern parts. Every piece of habitat counts.
“A lot of freehold land here has the same values as the world heritage listed rainforest, but it’s not protected in the same way. Through this project, we’ve already found one of the best examples in the area of a kauri forest ecosystem.”
Kuranda Envirocare received a grant from Terrain NRM through its Building Rainforest Resilience project to work on the voluntary conservation agreements with interested landholders and an independent botanist. The Building Rainforest Resilience project focuses on habitat protection, revegetation and weed management work in priority areas for cassowaries, Mabi forest and littoral rainforest.
Kuranda Envirocare’s work complements an earlier grant for Kuranda Conservation Community Nursery to cover the cost of rainforest assessments for landholders seeking higher-level nature refuge status.
Terrain’s Tony O’Malley said blocks that had been better protected through both projects ranged from rural residential size to large tracts of rainforest land.
“These two types of conservation agreements are protecting more areas of rainforest and cassowary habitat in Kuranda’s Black Mountain Corridor and this seed project is now generating interest in other areas of the Wet Tropics as landholders get to see what’s possible,’’ he said.
The Building Rainforest Resilience project is supported by Terrain NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.