Update from Reef Catchments CEO Rob Cocco.
Reef Rescue Phase 2
Last week Reef Catchments received correspondence from Ministers Burke and Ludwig confirming the government’s strong interest toward continuing Reef Rescue for a further 5 years. In the correspondence, both Ministers praised the alliance of partners for the outputs and outcomes being achieved. Reef Catchments is currently working with the Commonwealth toward further development of Phase Two of the program.
Supporting rural fire services
As many readers are aware, Reef Catchments has focused heavily for the past 3 years on improving fire management across the landscape. Our focus toward managing fire is as a result of the large contribution fire has toward enhancing biodiversity conservation and the critical management risk aligned to the protection of infrastructure and human life in many regional areas.
In the past month Reef Catchments has offered its support to the Queensland government as part of its review of rural fire services provision. Our action seeking to ensure that the key role of rural fires services is not lost and hence we are able to continue to utilise the local partnerships which are well on the way toward not only saving lives and infrastructure but also repairing our landscape via the correct use of fire.
Maintaining fisheries services
Under new Queensland Government arrangements, the services and staff previously supporting such projects as fish way barrier design and construction, dam construction advice, fisheries policy advice, fish salvage and freshwater and estuary fish monitoring are to be terminated by the end of June 2013.
Reef Catchments, along with many other NRM groups, local government, and commercial businesses have routinely utilised these services. With this in mind, Reef Catchments has formally outlined interest toward the provision of these same services to the Queensland Government.
Currently under discussion, the opportunity into the future, subject to agreement of key terms and conditions, could see Reef Catchments continuing the provision of these much needed services to the Queensland community.
Our new office in the Whitsundays
This week Reef Catchments signed off on the lease agreement for our new office operations in Proserpine. It is expected that final fit out of the complex should be completed by mid-December.
Reef Catchments looks forward to the official opening of the office in late December 2012. The office and movement of key staff to the our Proserpine operations further supports Reef Catchments aim to be a region-wide service support organisation for the Mackay Whitsunday and Isaac communities.
Continuation and expansion of Project Catalyst
Reef Catchments has this month signed off on the continuation of Project Catalyst for a further 12 months. This 2012/13 investment marks the fifth year of investment from the US based Coca-Cola foundation.
In addition to the Coca-Cola investment, Reef Catchments and partners has formally signed off on a MOU with Bayer Crop Science Australasia which will see Bayer staff and programs supporting Project Catalyst.
Along with reinvestment from Coca-Cola and support from Bayer, Reef Catchments be talking to key sugar value chain sustainability leaders within Rabobank, Unilever, Kraft and BP at a series of meetings in London in November. The goal is to attract further investment to promote innovation in sugar cane farming both locally, nationally and globally.
Nutrient Offsets Pilot
In what will be a first for Queensland, both Reef Catchments and Mackay Regional Council have sought interest from the Queensland government toward the pilot evaluation of a nutrient offset program. The pilot initiative seeks to evaluate the opportunity of allowing local government to offset the dispersal of nutrient contained in water discharge from a water treatment plant versus incurring the high cost associated with the removal of some nutrients at very refined rates.
The local government offset funding would then be utilised to support rural or other land management practices which would support a 3-4 times higher level of water quality improvement as compared to the investment in additional water treatment within the same water body.