Wet Tropics People – Setting the Course for the Reef
January 25, 2017
In a first for Queensland, the Wet Tropics community is being entrusted with the design of a major project to improve water quality to the Great Barrier Reef. The Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project (WT MIP) will be seeking ideas big and small, old and new to transform our approach to the challenge of improving the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
The MIP will be designed by the local community with support from a consortium of over 30 partners. The consortium, coordinated by Terrain NRM on behalf of Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership and Australian Banana Growers’ Council, Local Government, community, consultants and scientists.
The Queensland Government is funding the major integrated project in the Wet Tropics. The WT MIP aims to reduce nutrient and pesticide losses from cane and banana farms in the Tully and Johnstone River Catchments, to reduce pollutants reaching the Great Barrier Reef. The WT MIP will also help provide a blueprint for future reef projects in other locations.
The successful design phase will help determine the Wet Tropics’ share of $33 million allocated by the Queensland government. Today’s meeting will set the scene for how the design phase will take place, building on everyone’s skills, experience and knowledge.
Carole Sweatman, Terrain NRM’s CEO, said this innovative approach to project design was a great opportunity for the Wet Tropics to show leadership with regards to taking action for the GBR.
“After several years of delivering reef programs, Wet Tropics farmers have a proven track record of delivering water quality outcomes in the Wet Tropics. We’ve established strong partnerships, generated a significant pool of shared knowledge and we understand the challenges. As a community we are in good position to know what works, what doesn’t and to generate ideas for local conditions,” she said.
“The WT MIP is the first project that will look beyond just farm practice and incorporate solutions across all activities in the catchments. This is a unique and exciting opportunity to ensure local knowledge is incorporated into a Reef Water Quality project to suit local conditions and farmer circumstances.”
A major workshop in each of the Johnstone and Tully Catchments is scheduled for 2nd and 3rd March. All ideas big and small, old and new will be put on the table for consideration. Extensive participation by farmers will be a key to the success of the ideas workshops.
Joe Marano, Chair of Innisfail CANEGROWERS and the Wet Tropics MIP Project Panel, said the cane industry is excited about the prospect of being able to make a contribution to the design of future reef programs.
“The cane industry has been the focus for many reef programs in the past but this is the first time we’ve been given the opportunity to work on the design process and contribute our local on-ground knowledge. Cane farmers want to improve water quality flowing from our farms to the reef just as much as anybody else and we have a good understanding of how these ideas will work in practice,” he said.
Click here for more on the WT MIP.