Paperbark April 2020

How are you? Hopefully you are making the best of these strange times. We certainly have been (but more on that later).

Sadly, it hasn't been the best month for our environment, with reports that our Great Barrier Reef is suffering "near-annual" coral bleaching and our country's environmental health has received a result of less than one out of ten on a major environmental scorecard. With this on top of COVID-19 restrictions keeping us away from some of our favourite natural spaces and cancelling numerous environmental events, you could be forgiven for feeling a bit down lately.

If your optimism is in need of a boost, read on to learn all about what's new at NQCC (it's exciting) and how you can continue to contribute to the movement, even in lockdown. We also recommend giving yourself a few minutes to read about how "tackling climate change is vital for the strongest economic recovery after coronavirus", because the future is just around the corner.

In this edition:

  • NQCC News:
    • Meet our new Campaigns Manager
    • Welcome to the Committee, Chris
    • Renew NQ: Climate Conversations update
    • Hells Gates Dam feasibility and impact review
  • Online Activism Opportunities:
    • Declare a Climate Emergency, Townsville 
    • Write for Renewables
    • Students are striking for the climate - online
    • Queensland's Natural Wonders Awards
  • May's (bird-themed) Green Drinks
  • Member of the Month
  • COVID-19 self-care tips

"G'day" from our New Campaigns Manager

Simon Cheers

Simon Cheers

G'day everyone! I was appointed as NQCC's new Campaigns Manager and started work on Monday. I've been getting my head around all the excellent work Tarquin, Crystal and Tessa have been working on. I'm very excited to continue the current projects NQCC has on the go and explore new opportunities for the organisation.

A little about me. I grew up in Townsville and developed a strong connection with the North Queensland environment by fishing the Ross River, camping throughout the region, rock hopping at Alligator and Crystal Creeks and hanging out at Billabong Sanctuary. My career in environmental advocacy and management started in South Australia after I completed a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental and Park Management.

I have worked on a range of environmental projects in a technical role from large scale revegetation projects, ecological monitoring and fire management. I have also volunteered for GetUp, the SA and NT Greens and the Arid Land Environment Centre. My most recent and rewarding position was with the Central Land Council working with Traditional Owners to reintroduce 'cool' burning into various ecosystems in the Northern Territory. 

When I'm not working I'm very active in Townsville's comedy scene and I've been lucky enough to do stand up comedy at the Adelaide Fringe and venues all over Australia.

I look forward to meeting you all and working with the Management Committee to protect and advocate for North Queensland's unique environment.

We would love our members to meet Simon face-to-face (in a safe, virtual setting of course) so we are hosting an online get-together for everyone to get acquainted!

Join our online event at 7.30pm on Wednesday 13th May!

New Management Committee Member

Welcome Chris!

Chris Pam

This month we are pleased to welcome Chris Pam to our Management Committee! She is an anthropologist and currently teaches in the social sciences at James Cook University. Previous research she has undertaken has focused on community understandings of climate change in the Pacific. Chris has been concerned about social justice and environmental issues for many years and is keen to work on climate justice campaigns with others in the North Queensland community. Welcome, Chris!

Feasibility and Impact Review into Hells Gates Dam

There have been renewed calls for construction of Hells Gates Dam, and post-COVID-19, this could well be included as a new "nation building project". As such, NQCC has conducted a review to examine its feasibility as well as environmental impact and presented this to MP for Herbert, Phillip Thompson. The review examined documents that represent three perspectives: proponents of the dam, water-security interests and environmental impact.

In terms of feasibility, the review found that the Burdekin Falls dam (with the improved Haughton pipeline) will be adequate for Townsville's projected water needs for the next 60 years. Additionally, economic returns are based on optimal crop production, yet still appear to be limited with low internal rates of return. As such, the dam cannot be justified on water security grounds, and with great difficulty in terms of economic returns.

Most importantly, the environmental impacts will be profound. As well as loss of habitat due to land-clearing and inundation, the dam will result in the river flow below the dam to the present Burdekin Falls Dam, a length of 270km (52% of the length of the Burdekin) to become permanently turbid, and - along with the Burdekin Falls Dam - will remove >30% of the river flow. This has the potential to affect nutrient supply to the reef and cause erosion to the narrow spit of land that is Cape Bowling Green. 

NQCC will continue to follow proposals for Hells Gates Dam construction and alert State and Federal parliaments of the potential environmental impacts and lack of economic feasibility.

Renew NQ: Climate Conversations Project

An update from the project's Coordinator, Tessa Hodge:

The world has been shaken up and all our lives have been affected or redirected in some way or another. We are turning to our friends, family, community groups, etc. now more than ever because as humans, we require connection. Connection and conversation are powerful tools for change.

There have been many conversations recently about some of the pressures on the planet easing. This may be so, however, repairing the damage caused by years of unsustainable practices takes long-term, large-scale change. So, we must continue to advocate for our precious planet through our powers of connection and conversation. This change can occur one positive conversation at a time - we just need to initiate the discussion.

Our Renew NQ project is well underway through our Climate Conversations trainings. We have successfully run the training through an online format (our trusty pal, Zoom) in the last month, and we have continued gaining momentum with more volunteers. We now have two Climate Conversation trainings scheduled each week, which are offered to anyone keen to be involved. We have also developed a webpage to centralise project information, including some handy resources. 

We would love to see you at one of our upcoming training sessions. To join, select "I want to be part of the Renew NQ Campaign" on the webpage below and we will be in touch!

Townsville City Council:
Declare a Climate Emergency!

NQCC member Dr Peter Jones has initiated an e-petition urging Townsville City Council to declare a climate emergency. He cites serious loss of life and destruction of vital ecosystems as reasons for urgent action, while recognising that "both wartime and pandemic economic mobilisations have proven how quickly nations can restructure their economies when facing an extreme threat". Business-as-usual has been disrupted by COVID-19 - this provides us with a rare opportunity to undergo a very important paradigm shift!

The petition calls upon TCC to "collaborate with other local councils, NGOs and community groups to pressure the State and Federal governments to declare a Climate Emergency and mobilise the resources necessary to protect all people, species, and ecosystems" - among other things. 

We'd love to see as many names on this petition as possible, so if you're a Townsville resident please add your name and encourage others to do so too!

Important note: After signing you will be sent an email with a confirmation link. Please ensure you click this link to add your name to the petition.


Will you Write for Renewables?

Solar Citizens

The economic measures implemented by State and Federal governments in the coming months could lead us down the same dangerous fossil-fuel road that we've been on, or it could lead to investment in new renewable energy infrastructure - providing clean energy jobs and reducing our domestic greenhouse gas emissions. Solar Citizens are calling on individuals like you to write to their local paper to remind readers in your community of the wonderful benefits of rooftop solar and other renewable energy.

Follow the link below for tips and to easily submit your letter online!

Schools Strike 4 Climate

"It's time to build a vision for a better future"

Despite many students currently studying from home, schools climate strikes continue - online! School Strike 4 Climate will be hosting an interactive livestream on Friday 15 May from 4pm until 8pm.

The Schools Strike movement is entirely student-led, so if you know any students here in North Queensland who would like to get involved - make sure they do! It would be great to show the rest of Australia that our young people are just as worried about climate change and just as passionate about their futures as their metropolitan counterparts - because we know it's true! #ClimateStrikeOnline

Queensland's Natural Wonders Awards - Queensland Conservation Council

Photography has long been an essential tool for protecting our natural environment. Images of environmental devastation arouse public anger, while photos of adorable or amazing native creatures inspire us to protect their habitat.

With that in mind the Queensland Conservation Council is again holding the Queensland’s Natural Wonders Photography Awards, to recognise and celebrate the power of images - and the importance of photographers - in protecting our natural world.

We’re looking for outstanding new images that showcase Queensland’s natural environment; our unique plants and wildlife; and the connection between the people of Queensland and our beautiful state.

At the conclusion of the competition, we’ll be awarding prizes for the best-judged photographs in three main categories:

  • Land and Seascapes
  • Native Plants and Wildlife
  • Smartphone Category

There will also be a Junior Wonders Award for the best photograph by a person under 18 in any of the three categories. And to top it off, we’re asking the public to decide a winner for the People’s Choice Award, in any category.

The competition is open for entries are now open until 15 May 2020 with the judging panel consisting of a couple of leading Queensland nature photographers and a QCC Executive Committee member.

May Green Drinks

We believe isolation shouldn't be lonely or dull. Sometimes it's nice to talk to other people who care about the environment and sometimes it's just nice to be social and share some laughter to remind us that it's Friday. 

Join us from 6pm on Friday 8 May via Zoom (make an account here).

This month's theme is Beautiful Birds! Wear something bird-like (the colours of your favourite bird, some feathers, something with birds on it), gather some refreshments and settle in for a social Friday evening, from the comfort and safety of your own home!



Member of the Month

Bill Kennedy

NQCC Member Bill Kennedy enjoys exploring natural wonders on his travels.

Each month, we get in touch with one of our members to learn more about their passions and worldview. This month, we hope you'll enjoy getting to know Bill Kennedy a little better.

Why did you become a member of NQCC?

I joined NQCC two years ago. I have been an energy/water/waste-conscious person for many years, with no kids (bonus to the planet!). There has been a lot of ugly social commentary in recent years about "Green/Left" alarmists - I saw NQCC as a quiet, responsible achiever of environmental gains in our region.

What are your life passions?

Being a responsible, respectful, humble member of "humankind" - the distinctly un-kind species! I am also passionate about music (piano, guitar, jazz bass, bagpipes and harmonica) and travel (including to over 70 countries).

How does nature fit into your life?

Nature in all its glory sits in view from my balcony overlooking Cleveland Bay, and my crazy gardens. Every journey overseas is partly off the beaten track, with mountains, forests, oceans and glaciers to remind us of our great good fortune in having life, and it being on this amazing Planet Earth! I have "adopted" a tiger with WWF and also support Bush Heritage in restoring habitats in our amazing country of Australia!

Do you have any words of encouragement or advice for others who love the environment?

We have to face the grim reality that our over-population and over-consumption is about to take a serious toll on what were the balanced and evolutionary ecological systems of species which we have arrogantly trashed with our ongoing view of "rights" and "superiority". Habitat loss and degradation is far more serious than climate change and we have no easy answers - all of which are only considered "applicable" if we can "afford" them!


Our members are so special to us. They come from many different walks of life and hold a range of perspectives and ideas. We love celebrating this diversity and what it brings to our community. If you would like to join us, you can become a member via our website. 

Self-Care Tips for Environmentalists

Covid-19 self-care tips

With the help of our in-house wellness coach (Tash), we've compiled a list of hints and tips for self-care in this world of Covid-19, and we've targeted it specifically at people like us - environmentalists! This list is just the beginning though - we want to hear what kind of things have been helping YOU to flourish, thrive, or just get by, in these challenging times. If you identify something that works for you, email your suggestions to [email protected] to contribute to the well-being of our beautiful community. 


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