What Drives Us
To bring together the broad-based community and other organisations to take action to promote a vibrant Far North Queensland natural environment
CAFNEC has been advocating for the protection of nature in
Far North Queensland since 1981.
The Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) is a not-for-profit incorporated association that acts as conservation council for the region from Cardwell north to Torres Strait and from the east coast to the Gulf of Carpentaria. We work to protect the environment by enhancing the capacity of local groups and community members to act for conservation, strengthening networks within FNQ, facilitating region-wide cooperation to identify and coordinate action on issues of regional significance and when necessary, engaging in campaigns that are strategically important for the region.
The FNQ environment needs a strong voice, and the people of FNQ who know, love and live in the region are the best ones to be that voice. Protecting the world’s largest living structure (the Great Barrier Reef) and the oldest continuously surviving rainforests (the Wet Tropics) – as well as the other spectacular natural areas in the region – is a huge challenge and needs resources. These World Heritage Areas are important to Australians and global citizens alike so we also need people outside the region to join and support us in giving voice to the local community members who speak and act for these globally-recognised natural wonders.
Like many not-for-profit organisations, we have a small number of staff that keep things ticking along but volunteers, members and donors are the real power behind the organisation so the more we have, the more we can do.
CAFNEC was formed in 1981 by members of a number of local conservation groups. It was felt that group coordination and a higher profile for regional environment issues was needed with a single, accessible contact point. Since 1991 that contact point has been both an office and library in Cominos House, a restored Queenslander at the corner of Greenslopes and Little Streets, where the then city council chose tenants for their contribution to restoration and to co-operative management. Cominos House is one of the most well know cultural and historical buildings in Cairns, close to the Flecker Botanic Gardens. Since CAFNEC’s establishment it has been the focal point for environmental action and education in the region.
Lucy Graham | Director
Lucy was born here at the Cairns Base, and grew up on the Atherton Tablelands. She has a deep love for our World Heritage Areas and the wide ranging nature that our region has.
Prior to her appointment in August 2019, Lucy has been actively involved with CAFNEC for more than five years, as a volunteer, management committee member and representative. Lucy has strong networks with a wide range of organisations and community groups in Far North Queensland, as well as at a State and National spheres.
Lucy has a B. Sustainability from JCU, and has trained with The Change Agency and for many years worked in Outdoor Education and Tourism. Lucy has worked with organisations such as The Wilderness Society, GetUp and the Queensland Conservation Council and brings knowledge and exprience valuable to CAFNEC.
Marie Short | Office Manager
Marie has worked for us for many years and maintains a vast knowledge bank in relation to our work.
She says there is never a dull day in the CAFNEC office and that she is fortunate to be able to interact with so many interesting and energetic people, and of course the myriad of environmental issues.
Marie is involved in CAFNEC’s annual Far North Wilderness Bike Tour and hopes to actually do some riding one year!
Apart from her CAFNEC life, she enjoys a range of sports, good friends and the odd glass of champagne!
Bess Murphy | Community Engagement Coordinator
Hailing from country NSW, Bess is passionate about science, sustainability and change making. Trained as an Environmental Scientist, majoring in Biology with First Class Honours she has worked at multiple universities as a research assistant.
She has over a decade of environmental campaigning and outreach experience spanning Bathurst, Wollongong and Cairns.
When not at CAFNEC you can find Bess crafting sustainable timber jewellery in an off grid shed on the Tablelands, under the sea, or hiking in the rainforest nerding-out on botany.
Aïsha de Barros Lopes | Community Organiser
Moving away from the rush of the big city Aïsha found her rhythm in Cairns between the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. After completing a Bachelors Degree in Environments at the University of Melbourne, and working alongside some of Melbourne’s conservationist groups, she undertook an internship with CAFNEC to learn more about environmental advocacy which led to her current role.
Although Aïsha is fairly new to the role her passion for environmental protection drives her to build upon her skills and knowledge, as well as her connection and engagement with the community. When not at the centre, she will be out and about working at markets stalls, putting on events, teaching at schools, or mingling with the community.
And if you can’t find her at any of these place she will most likely be dancing and swimming amongst the critters of the rainforest!
Cory Tiger |
Cory started with CAFNEC in 2019 as an intern. Working closely with all of our staff she quickly gained a comprehensive understanding of CAFNEC and the work that we do. Cory is here while she completes her Master of Science degree in Environmental Policy. Hailing from the United States of America, Cory has a deep passion for natural places, especially World Heritage Areas, a focus of her studies.
Cory coordinates our projects and events, an important part of CAFNEC’s work in protecting and raising awareness of our natural environments.
“When I first learned about CAFNEC, it was evident that it is an organisation that transforms sentiment into action. CAFNEC is dedicated to working directly with community members and other interest groups through unique and fun educational and advocacy methods. I have no doubt my experience with CAFNEC will provide me with a powerful toolkit for communicating and tackling environmental and climate issues with various stakeholders.” Cory Tiger
Our Management Committee
Denis Walls | President
Denis has been a member of CAFNEC for 26 years and has extensive political, social and environmental campaigning experience. He was a broadcaster and newspaper columnist for 10 years and is the author of books on Rwanda and Malaysia (the latter with Stella Martin). He has worked as a sociology and environmental studies lecturer and Indigenous education program manager. Since the early 1990s Denis has led and been involved in numerous campaigns to protect our precious natural heritage. Denis has a passion for languages and enjoys focused travel, bird watching and a cappella singing. He continues to defy the years by playing veterans league soccer.
Johanna Karam | Secretary
Johanna grew up in Victoria and studied zoology/marine biology in Townsville, then post graduate studies in Tropical Environmental Management in Darwin. She began her environmental career working with Conservation Volunteers Australia in the late 1990s and then worked in environmental education and international development in eastern Indonesia and Timor Leste. Much of Jo’s working life has centred on the interactions between communities and the environment in the non-government and tertiary education sectors. Returning to Australia’s north, she worked for Cape York Natural Resource Management, supporting Indigenous Rangers to monitor and protect sea turtles on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula. Her passion to conserve turtles and the broader marine environment in the Indo-Pacific region continued in a recent role she had managing the Sea Turtle Foundation.
Roger Atkin | Treasurer
Roger has a Master’s Degree in Business and Technology and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. His history includes software development, process improvement and financial management. Good governance and transparency are his watchwords. He believes that proper stewardship of the organisation’s finances and assets enables its members to focus their energy on doing the real work of the organisation – protecting the environment. Climate destabilisation worries him, countering ignorance energizes him, and working with committed people gives him hope.
Claire Galvin | General Member
Claire is a university student and has co-organised a social movement in Cairns, empowering young people to take on leadership roles and fight for climate justice. She started her activism by organising a number of climate strikes in Cairns. Upon seeing that more young people were engaging in climate activism she decided, along with other climate strike organisers, to start an Australian Youth Climate Coalition group in Cairns. AYCC Cairns is actively campaigning in the community to achieve climate justice through a number of exciting campaigns. Claire has also won multiple national Eureka Prize awards for science communication.
Simon Thompson | General Member
Simon is a scientist with a background in botany, zoology and climate. With two young children he is driven to reduce carbon pollution and defend the environment. Simon has opened two homes for the Sustainable House Day displaying climate smart gardens, efficiency, time-of-use management and renewable energy. He is a keen cyclist who loves cycling just as much as when he was a kid. Simon is always keen to talk about climate, energy and plants.
Sioux Campbell | General Member
Sioux Campbell currently works as a Disaster Resilience Officer for Cairns Regional Council. In her own time she is on the board of the Tangaroa Blue Foundation and Cairns Community Radio. Sioux has a long history of involvement in environmental management through past employment with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation, her own environmental PR consultancy and voluntary positions with marine conservation organisations. As a crisis manager and community engagement specialist, she is a Fellow of the PR Institute of NZ, a life member of the NZ Association for Environmental Education and an FNQ Ambassador for the International Association of Public Participation.
Dirk Werner-Lutrop | General Member
Dirk, an economist by trade, has worked for large NGOs in South America and Papua New Guinea supporting social and economic development and justice. Following a passion for scuba diving, Dirk and his wife, Claudia, settled in Cairns in 1994 establishing a flourishing dive tourism business. Through that business Dirk was able to witness first-hand the deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef. He is keen to face the challenges posed to the GBR and reef systems globally through involvement with CAFNEC. Dirk was an active member of Aquis Aware and is a keen singer in a number of Cairns choirs.