New sustainable tourism projects for Queensland’s National Parks

A six­ day walk amid subtropical rainforest, waterfalls, and mountain hills could be Queensland’s next eco-tourism attraction, after a proposed Scenic Rim Trail project recieved Government backing.

The sustainable tourism project, located 116km south-west of Brisbane in Main Range National Park, would combine low-impact walking trails, mountain bike tracks, and two new ecocamps, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the landscape.

The project will be constructed and maintained by tourism entepeneurs the Spicers Group. National Parks Minister, Dr Steven Miles, said the Queensland Government would provide assistance to the Spicers Group, as they go through a range of approval processes.

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Artists impression of the ecocamp and trail.

The Spicers Group is owned by Flight Centre boss Graham Turner, and owns nine boutique tourism ventures worth upwards of $70 million, including the Sangoma boutique resort in the Blue Mountains.

Dr Miles suggested this made the Turners “well credentialed” when it came to conservation activities.

“They’ve bought and set aside about 8000 hectares of the Scenic Rim for nature refuges and been involved in local wildlife rehabilitation projects,” he said.

“Rivaling more temperate offerings in Tasmania and New Zealand, this will be a captivating experience for walkers following the escarpment of the caldera,” Said Queensland National Parks Minister, Dr Steven Miles said.

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A trail leads up to the ecocamp.

Both Tourism and National Parks ministers foreshadowed greater sustainable tourism opportunities for the Queensland national parks in the future. “Projects like the Scenic Rim Trail will help grow visitation to Queensland, protect the environment and deliver new eco­tourism experiences for visitors,” said Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones.

Dr Miles also said a new high ropes course, as well as mountain­bike and water­based activities were proposed for Walkabout Creek Discovery Centre, The Gap, by tourism operators Tree Top Challenge and Riverlife.

This Scenic Rim Trail will stretch 50kms, running from Mt Mistake in the north to the Canopy Eco­Lodge in the south.

ACT project to help low-income households install solar

The ACT Government is rolling out a program that will allow low-income households to receive funding to install solar in their homes.

Eligible households are invited to register their interest throughout he ACT Government, as part of a four-year pilot.

ACT Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, Simon Corbell, suggested the program would help low-income Canberran’s bring down the cost of their electricity bill, as well as do their part for the environment.

“This program will assist people who want to do their part by investing in renewable energy for their home but need a hand because of their circumstances,” Mr Corbell said.

The ACT currently has one of the most ambitious emissions reduction schemes in the country, with a target of 100% renewables by 2050.

The project is an Actsmart Household initiative, and will be run in conjunction with ACT Housing, community welfare organisations, and no-interest loan providers.

It is expected to be launched in late 2016 or early 2017.

Those interested in registering for the program can email actsmart@act.gov.au or call Access Canberra on 13 22 81.

PM appoints new Minister for Environment and Energy

Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, unveiled his new Ministry on Monday, announcing key changes to the Environment Portfolio.

Josh Frydenberg will become the new Minister for the Environment and Energy, a newly expanded title which brings energy under the umbrella of the Department of Environment.

Mr Turnbull said the intent of the decision was to align renewable targets, clean energy development, and emission reduction with other environmental policy areas, a concern echoed by Josh Frydenberg.

“As we transition to a lower emissions economy, I’m focused on ensuring Australia has a stable and secure energy supply, capitalising on new energy efficient technologies,” Mr Frydenberg said.

Environmental groups have largely welcomed the move, noting the importance of energy policy in tackling climate change.

“Making the transition to clean energy is the solution, so it makes sense to have a single minister responsible for environment and energy,” said ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

The Green Building Council of Australia also applauded this new ‘integrated’ approach, noting that the role affords the Minister greater powers for sustainability.

“A fragmented approach hasn’t worked. An integrated approach brings together the ‘big picture’ of meeting climate targets, while investing in clean energy and unlocking the potential of carbon zero economy,” said CEO Romilly Madew.

“Importantly, Minister Frydenberg will have greater power to deliver the priorities under the National Energy Productivity Plan.”

However there was criticism of Josh Frydenberg’s track record on coal, and suggestions that he is ill-suited to the role of Environment and Energy minister.

“For Malcolm Turnbull to appoint a minister who still believes that there is still a strong moral case for coal even during the worst coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef’s history is clear show of contempt for the Australian public,” said Greenpeace senior climate and energy campaigner Nikola Casule.

In Queensland, Josh Frydenberg’s state counterpart called on him to do more to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

He requested an extra $1.6 million in funding over four years for the Great Barrier Reef field management program (FMP) amid concerns it is under-resourced.

“Our funding is contingent on the Commonwealth matching the commitment in line with existing funding agreements, in which the QPWS jointly delivers the field management program across the length and breadth of the reef in an award winning partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority,” Dr Miles said.

Federal Parliament will resume on August 30. Josh Frydenberg’s predecessor as Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, will remain in Cabinet as the Minister for Industry, Innovation, and Science.

 

 

 

 

Tasmanian Wilderness management commended by World Heritage Commission

Australia has been given a positive scorecard for its management of he Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, in the World Heritage Committee’s 2016 State of Conservation report.

Among measures commenced include a commitment to protecting the wilderness area from mining and the development of joint management arrangements with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community.

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Unprecedented mangrove dieback in Northern Australia

Thousands of hectares of mangroves on the Gulf of Carpentaria have suffered a severe dieback as a result of drying conditions and high temperatures.

Professor Norm Duke, spokesman for the Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Network, said around 7000 hectares of mangroves had been affected, which is more than nine percent of the mangroves in the area stretching 700km west from Normanton.

Continue reading “Unprecedented mangrove dieback in Northern Australia”

Polling shows national concern for tackling climate change

Australians overwhelmingly wish to see Australia take an international leadership role in tackling climate change, a national poll has showed.

The pre-election polling, completed by the Climate Institute,  was conducted on 2-6 June 2016. The results also indicate an increase in concern about climate change and strong views among uncommitted voters.

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New steward for Australian Alps

For the next three years, the Australian Alps will be under the stewardship of the ACT Parks and Conservation Services, as part of a cross border management program.

Famous for ski fields and diverse alpine landscapes, Australia’s Alps comprise the Namadgi (ACT), Kosciuszko (NSW) and Alpine (Victoria) national parks. This unique positioning across two states and a territory led to the establishment of the internationally recognised Australian Alps National Parks Cooperative Management Program over three decades ago.

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