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15 March, 2021

Planting a healthier future

A Queensland Government program to stimulate post-COVID economic recovery and create jobs while protecting our valuable reef and rainforest assets in Far North Queensland (FNQ) is off to a great start, with community tree planting to take place this weekend.

NQ Land Management Services Field Assistant Hayden Jardine with native tree seedlings.

As part of the Queensland Government’s $10 million Reef Assist Program, the Wet Tropics Management Authority has received more than a quarter of these funds to drive ‘shovel-ready’ environmental management and restoration projects in the Wet Tropics.

This Saturday, a community tree-planting event will be held at Millaa Millaa as part of the ‘Boots on the Ground’ project, and will coincide with the International Day of Forests.

The project aims to grow jobs and engage local governments, community groups, environmental management groups and Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples to improve the resilience of our rainforests and health of the Great Barrier Reef catchment area while also creating a sustainable environmental economy.

“The program aligns with the Green and Blue Economic Stimulus Economic Package, which was drawn up last year by more than 20 key industry and business organisations from tourism, university, and environment sectors to make Far North Queensland the Smart Green Capital of Australia,” said the Authority’s Executive Director Scott Buchanan.

“FNQ’s reef and rainforest world heritage areas underpin our economy. Valued at more than $61 billion, they generate over $11 billion annually. These natural assets also generate $3.5 billion annually for the tourism industry and $1.62 billion annually for the agricultural sector,” Mr Buchanan said.

The region’s peak non-government environmental organisation, Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) is one of the partners of the Green and Blue package.

CAFNEC Director Lucy Graham said the funding package was the perfect win-win situation for jobs and the environment.

“It is great to see the Queensland Government step up and commit Reef Assist funding and we hope it is the beginning of a new way of doing business to provide much needed jobs while looking after our valuable environment.

“This funding is a great first step in delivering some of the projects identified in the Green and Blue package, which would see $180 million invested over three years, and generate over 1500 jobs while upskilling young people the broader workforce.

“The economy and our environment are not mutually exclusive, and in this moment as we recover from the pandemic, our environment has the solutions our economy needs.

“A smart green economy is the pathway for us not just surviving climate change, but also thriving as a community.”

The Reef Assist Program is delivering priority environmental projects and creating employment opportunities for Queenslanders in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday regions.

This weekend’s tree planting event is at 8am, at the Misty Mountain Nature Refuge, East Evelyn Road, Millaa Millaa. Members of the community are welcome.

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