Ok, so this month may not have reached the heights of excitement experienced last month, but July has still been a busy time for us. Much like a duck paddling away under water whilst floating calmly along the surface, we've been working quietly yet furiously behind the scenes. So, while we have no exciting events to reminisce upon this month, we hope you'll enjoy this rather informative edition of Paperbark, containing some important updates on some of our biggest campaigns.
Also, if you've been attempting to limit your use of plastics this month, well done! The most important step is raising awareness around how prevalent it is in our lives and how dangerous it can be for the environment. Feeling overwhelmed by the endeavour to reduce your impact? Read this article.
In this edition:
- Polystyrene balls on Magnetic Island
- "One in a Billion" - Starting Conversations
- National Parks campaign update
- Toolakea Beach Development Submission
- JCU Intern Placements at NQCC
- August Green Drinks
- AGM coming up!
Polystyrene Pollution on Magnetic Island
You may have seen in the news (or perhaps first-hand) the devastating and highly troublesome pollution of millions of tiny polystyrene balls, washed up on the south-eastern beaches of Magnetic Island. It is yet to be determined where these beanbag beans came from, and we are calling for an investigation to find the source. Thankfully, a team of helpful residents have been taking charge of the cleanup effort, helping to minimise the harm posed to marine wildlife. NQCC would like to extend our gratitude to those who have so far assisted in that challenging task. If you are interested in contributing to the clean up and have any queries, please contact Sara Cole via Facebook.
Polystyrene is made from pellets of plastic, and steam is used to expand them, turning them into a variety of products - packing 'peanuts', blocks that are cut into shapes to cushion items for shipping, takeaway containers, bean bag filling and even signage! It doesn't break down - it breaks up into smaller pieces that are easily blown across land by wind, across oceans by tides and ingested by a whole range of animals.
Images courtesy of Sarah Swain and Kylie Flament.
Polystyrene is definitely a product that seems harmless to many but really should be banned completely! Perhaps it could be next on the Queensland Government's hit-list (after they push back against those heavy duty plastic bags that appeared in the supermarkets and were said to be helping people 'transition' towards BYO bags!).
"One in a Billion" - Starting Conversations
Speaking of plastic pollution, this year's Strand Ephemera features a particular artwork that has people talking...
"One in a Billion" is a work by Therese Duff, Peter Hanley (NQCC President), Cam Leitch (NQCC Treasurer), Dennis O'Toole and Issara Singtothong, and it carries a powerful environmental message. Australians use approximately one billion disposable coffee cups each year. Contrary to popular belief, they are usually non-recyclable (with the exception of this program), so end up either directly in landfill or contaminating recycling bins (and ultimately ending up in landfill anyway). If you are a regular drinker of takeaway coffee, consider investing in a reusable cup - there are many environmentally-conscious options available, but if in doubt you could always choose one second-hand.
Have you seen or created an artwork that has started conversations around an environmental issue? We'd love to hear about it!
National Parks - is Hinchinbrook Island Safe?
What percentage of our state is covered by National Parks? Read on to find the answer.
It is clear from recent correspondence that the Queensland Government is determined to encourage commercial leases within the Hinchinbrook Island National Park and others such as the Great Sandy NP, Whitsunday Island NP and the Wangetti Trail through Macalister Range NP and Mowbray NP. This is despite concerns from Traditional Owners, conservationists and many members of the public who are well aware of the importance of protecting Hinchinbrook Island and National Parks in general.
Queensland’s National Parks first and foremost exist to conserve biodiversity (the primary purpose). National Parks preserve habitats for a wide range of native plants and wildlife, including threatened species by helping to maintain habitat stability and preserve natural values. Unlike humans, who readily survive all sorts of conditions, many plants and animals find it very difficult to survive in areas of disturbance and rapid change. National Parks are places where "non-intervention" prevails and where the principle is to allow the free evolution of natural processes.
The secondary purpose of National Parks is to allow for visitation for people to appreciate and learn for themselves how important these areas are to conserve biodiversity (the primary purpose of National Parks). Meanwhile, the primary purpose of the tourism industry (including those who market themselves as ecotourism) is profits with environmental conservation further down on their priority list. This means that by definition, tourism is inconsistent with the purpose of National Parks and that activities within National Parks cannot be labelled as such. Under Queensland legislation, tourism operators have for decades accessed National Parks for their activities under a permit system. Permits mean that companies could access these areas but the right to refuse irresponsible tourism operators remained in the hands of the Queensland Government on behalf of all Queenslanders. Contrast this system to the one that is being thrust upon us where case by case commercial arrangements will be made across many of the National Parks in a commercial in confidence' discussions that does not include input from the Queensland public!
What puzzles us, is that Minister Kate Jones and her Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development (DITID) are taking the lead on significant decisions that affect National Parks which are the responsibility of Minister Leeanne Enoch and her Department of Environment and Science (DES). It is also puzzling that there is a Queensland Ecotourism Plan 2016-2020 that provides the 'guiding principles of ecotourism' that has not been endorsed by the Queensland public and has not involved public consultation. This plan is responsible for the complete re-framing of Queensland's National Parks as assets to create new revenue streams and that is seeing monitoring and maintenance of National Park management being handed over to companies who hold leases within National Parks. Do you trust companies to look after Queensland's publicly owned National Parks?
And by the way, the answer is just over 5%!!!
It is crucial that we make Queenslanders aware of this situation, so that we can all stand up and defend our National Parks, which we value so highly. To contribute to our social media campaign, use the hashtag #SaveOurNationalParks and help to spread the message!
Toolakea Beach Development
Over the past several weeks, Tarquin has been working with Wildife Queensland's Townsville Branch on a submission about the North Queensland Country Club Resort and Equestrian Centre Proposed by Landmark Projects Pty Ltd. We had the opportunity to suggest any changes or additions to what has to be included in the Environmental Impacts Statement (EIS) that the proponents would have to prepare as part of the development application process. In government speak, the submission was an opportunity to respond to the draft terms of reference for the EIS. The submissions process is through the Qld Department of State Developments, Manufacturing, Innovation and Planning (DSDMIP) because the Equestrian Resort is a coordinated project. The project optimistically claims it will generate 300 jobs per year (construction) and a further 3750 operational jobs. The Australia Institute kindly took the time to inform NQCC about the questionable methods used by consultancies for these types of studies to calculate inflated projections of jobs.
Image: Morning tea after a visit to the area near the development proposal at Toolakea Beach
The project needs to be looked at carefully with such close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, the presence of sensitive wetlands and drainage areas, potential habitat of threatened species, the complexity of past council decisions on this development (including decisions made under the now superseded Thuringowa Shire Council Scheme 2006) and EPBC referrals. Another point worth noting is that the surrounding properties are also owned by the same proponent Landmark Projects Pty Ltd., which is a parent company of Rimbunan Hijau - see reports about them here.
Upcoming Events & Other News
JCU Intern Placements at NQCC
For the next 15 weeks, two James Cook University social work students will be completing internships (500 hours) with NQCC. This is a fantastic opportunity to explore how social work relates to climate change and environmental issues. Increasingly, this field has been acknowledging the importance of exploring these connections, e.g. how mental health is impacted by environmental issues as just one example. NQCC will appreciate having the dedicated assistance from these interns on our work at present.
We would like to thank JCU and everyone else who has helped to make these placements a possibility. Watch this space for updates on the work of our wonderful interns, Mapendo and Parimal.
The next Green Drinks will be held at the Fish Inn (near the Rockpool) from 5.30pm on Friday 9 August. This regular event is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people in Townsville to discuss all things environmental. If you have any questions about Green Drinks, please email us at [email protected], or contact us via the Facebook group.
Annual General Meeting
We are happy to announce that our AGM will be held on the evening of Wednesday 18 September at 114 Boundary St, Railway Estate. Pencil in the date, and more information will come shortly. This is a great opportunity for members of NQCC to get together, hear from the staff and the management committee, and have a say about what goes on behind the scenes.
Thank you to those who have renewed your membership for 2019-2020, and a very warm welcome to our 42 new members who have joined us! If you are yet to renew your membership, you can follow the link below or email [email protected] (or call 0406 421 061) to check your membership status or make alternative payment arrangements.
Thank you for all that you do for the environment!
Tarquin & Crystal