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Wow. Another year has passed!

Click here
to read our 2018/19 Annual Report

…or read on for an excerpt from the President and Director

Excerpt – President’s Report 

“Since the 2018 CAFNEC annual report, the organisation has been busy on a range of issues and there has been a changing of the guard with Lucy Graham replacing Roz Walden as Director in late August. 

Roz had three wonderful years as the CAFNEC Director. Add the years before that as a volunteer with the Marine Response Team (MRT) and as a member of the CAFNEC Management Committee, we can safely say that her contribution to the organisation was massive. Her skills as a thoughtful organiser, planner and communicator helped to continue to make CAFNEC the vibrant and financially secure peak body that it is. Roz’s dedication to the protection of our FNQ environment was constant in word and deed. We wish Roz well in her new adventure in New Zealand. 

However, every cloud has a silver lining and we were delighted to welcome Lucy Graham to the role of Director. She is well-known to CAFNEC members and returns, after a period away in Brisbane, with renewed passion and skills. Lucy has already settled in brilliantly to the position and is currently driving CAFNEC’s five year strategic planning process to ensure we remain environmentally engaged and relevant, and financially secure, well into the future.

In January 2019 we were also pleased to expand the CAFNEC team and welcome one of our previous interns, Kate Meliville-Rea as our Projects and Events Coordinator. Kate has worked tirelessly to ensure the ongoing engagement and active improvement of our projects and events including Drain Stencil, Boomerang Bags, Green Drinks and more. She is a real asset to the team here at CAFNEC.

There were many big moments that CAFNEC and its members were involved in this year. These moments called for celebration, renewed focus and determination in the work that we do. We had the greatest pleasure to celebrate 30 years of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. CAFNEC’s role in the creation of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area was key, and we were humbled to reflect on the work of those before us. We commemorated this history in the collector’s edition of Ecotone in November (Vol 38 No 4) ‘Celebrating 30 years of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area’.

Late 2018 a major moment passed as our community lost 23,000 Spectacled Flying-foxes in what was arguably one of Cairns’s worst heat waves. CAFNEC worked with other organisations and members to respond to this event and campaigned for better protection of bats and their roosts. In February 2019 the Australian Government upgraded the threatened status from vulnerable to endangered and we still continue to support their ongoing protection.

The new year saw yet another big moment as CAFNEC dove into the Federal Election. CAFNEC staff and volunteers worked tirelessly throughout the pre-election period and used the opportunity to have conversations about climate change and our region.

The results of the election was a disappointment to many, but as advocates, we never quite know how our work influences change. We do know we knocked on thousands of doors, had hundreds of conversations, got our voices and faces in the media and grew stronger together along the way. Since the election we have seen volunteers from this work step up and become leaders in our community.

There is no doubt that this election has made the environment movement here – and across Australia – stronger and more courageous. This is critical because it only requires the shift of a very small percentage of the population for an idea to become the prevailing view. With our words and actions we can change hearts and minds.

Not long after celebrating 30 years of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area we saw the initiation of the Wet Tropics Plan Review by the Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA). CAFNEC took on the responsibility to oversee, consult with community groups, and write the Wet Tropics Plan Review submission on behalf of the conservation sector. We have an ongoing dialogue with WTMA about this submission and are looking to ensure that the next part of the process, The Tourism Destination Plan, includes strong voices from the conservation sector.

In the middle of the year we had pause for reflection as we mourned the death of Peter Hitchcock and John Glue, two long term members of the environment movement in FNQ. CAFNEC is deeply appreciative of the people who have contributed to our community in the Far North and our quarterly Ecotone celebrated their life and achievements.

The leasing of land to private interests in national parks became a hot topic around this time with the Wangetti Trail and Hinchinbrook  development being proposed. CAFNEC collaborated with four other environmental NGOs to push for the maintenance of the ‘cardinal principle’ in national parks, which we argued would be compromised by private development within these parks. This issue is ongoing and added another complicated dimension to the Wet Tropics review.

The Nullinga Dam project was back on the agenda and CAFNEC argued strongly in stakeholder forums and newspaper columns that the dam did not make any economic (let alone environmental) sense. Along with other community members and groups that opposed the dam, we celebrated it’s dismissal and that the proposal has, once more, been put on the back burner, although disappointingly, not permanently shelved.

The KURWorld development proposal continued to concern the Kuranda and wider community and was stymied by the traffic limitations of the Kuranda Range Road. The Jack Barnes Boardwalk off Airport Avenue, more recently, has galvanised a cross-section of the community seeking its long-term repair and/or replacement given its biological diversity. CAFNEC was proud to work alongside AYCC and School Strikers in the recent and hugely well attended climate strike on the Esplanade which reflected the community sentiment we need urgent action to address the current climate crisis. 

Excitingly we have also had Mangrove Watch funding extended for another 2 years, securing our ability to contribute to important work that helps us all understand and better protect mangrove and saltmarsh communities in FNQ. This work is ever more important as we see mangrove die-back and destruction increasing in our region.”

2019 has been a big year and with strategic planning in process for 2020 – 2025 we are getting ready to ensure the next 5 years are equally strong, impactful and fun. Thank you to everyone in our community who makes CAFNEC what it is.

Denis Walls (President) and Lucy Graham (Director)