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17 February, 2021

Symposium puts North QLD's Threatened Species in the spotlight

The Far North’s threatened species – from cassowaries to sawfish and golden-shouldered parrots – will be the focus when 150 scientists and conservationists converge on Cairns today.

Image Liz Gallie

Local threatened species recovery teams and actions groups are meeting with leading Australian scientists and the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Commissioner Sally Box at the inaugural North Queensland Threatened Species Symposium - a two-day event organised by NQ NRM Alliance’s Terrain NRM, Cape York NRM and Northern Gulf RMG in partnership with the Threatened Species Hub of the National Environmental Science Program.

Guest speakers and workshops will focus on everything from species conservation, lessons learnt, the latest research and recovery planning to feral pigs, controlled burns, and engaging traditional owners and the community.

Emma Jackson, Chair of the NQ NRM Alliance, said Far North Queensland is home to over 500 threatened plant and animal species, many of which are not found anywhere else. 

“Protecting threatened species requires a combination of local knowledge, scientific research and active commitment from community members who do the hard work on the ground,’’ she said.  “This symposium is an exciting opportunity to bring together scientists and local conservationists to network, influence discussion, share ideas and learn from each other.

Image: Daryl Dickson

“We have so many unique species in our region - and not just animals but also plant life such as the endangered Mabi and littoral rainforests. The biggest threats to threatened species is habitat loss, wildfires, and invasive weeds and pests, and we have a global responsibility to look after them, especially when many don’t exist anywhere else.”

Symposium organiser Jacqui Diggins from Terrain NRM said the event was planned to give practical support to groups and organisations involved in threatened species protection.

“Recovery team and action group members do the work on the ground to protect our threatened species and their passion is inspiring,’’ she said.  “The recovery teams include conservation group members, Traditional Owners, researchers, industries and government agencies and corporations. This event will also help to build connections between different recovery groups, something that’s as important as learning new skills and knowledge.”

Ms Jackson said biodiversity loss is a global issue and it is important for the community to work together to protect threatened plant and animal species. 

“This is not just about wanting to save our favourite animals,’’ she said. “Biodiversity is also the basic foundation for life - it’s what makes the earth habitable. Each individual species has a role to play in the ecosystems that we depend on for clean air, food and water.”

The North Queensland Threatened Species Symposium is supported through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and National Environmental Science Program. It is being delivered by the NQ NRM Alliance and the Threatened Species Hub and sponsored by The Nature Conservancy, South Endeavour Trust, Bush Heritage and the Wet Tropics Management Authority.  

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