Actions, Locations & People are Keys to WTMIP Success

June 16, 2017

Actions, locations and people are the three keys to the success of the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project and were the focus of workshops last week in Mourilyan and Tully. The Major Integrated Project, funded by the Queensland Government will be delivered in the next three years.

Farmers, scientists and community members came together to help finalise the project design, and learn how their 550 reef water quality ideas have been grouped under six themes to improve water quality and contribute to Great Barrier Reef health.

Of special interest to all workshop goers were the four inventive areas of farm scale-real time water quality monitoring, catchment repair and treatment systems, innovative financing and whole-farm extension. These activities have never been delivered in a whole of catchment approach before.

Attendees were keen to hear about a new finance system that could provide farmers with ongoing income for environmental results; the best options for catchment improvements or new treatment systems that will reduce pollution to the reef; and new approaches to Extension that will cover all aspects of farming. People were also asked to provide input to investigations into farm based-real time water quality monitoring that will put water quality data in the hands of farmers.

Cane grower George Henry came to the workshops because he wants to have input to a project that affects his industry. Mr Henry attended innovative finance and catchment repair information sessions, and said it’s important to him that progressive farmers doing the right thing get their share of the funding: “Being here today, I see it as being like a trim tab on the rudder of a big ship, and helping to guide progress in a certain way.”

He also had questions at the systems repair session, as the group weighed up the water quality benefits of concepts such as bio reactors, wetland restoration, and riparian restoration, aimed at helping to remove nitrogen from run-off heading to the reef.

Cassowary Coast Councillor Jeff Baines said he was encouraged by the continuing levels of community engagement. “People are working together from groups who historically you’d thought would never have sat together and had these conversations. I really think we’re going to come out with some great outcomes!”

Terrain NRM Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project manager, Tania Simmons, said there’s been huge amounts of work in wrapping up the design phase.

“We asked participants to also help us understand the geographic priorities in the Johnstone and Tully, as well as the arrangements for delivering the project. We were really interested to hear that everyone wants to make the most of existing skills and leadership in a way that works together.

“It’s exciting to see all these amazing ideas being converted to action, and being underpinned by enablers that help us to move away from cycles of government funding to ensure long term project sustainability, Ms Simmons said.”

Feedback on the draft design is open to the community until 5pm, Sunday 7th May. From there, the project panel will seek input from sectors and submit the draft design to the Queensland Government on 5th June.
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