WILDLIFE PRESERVATION SOCIETY OF QUEENSLAND – TOWNSVILLE BRANCH INC.
PRESIDENT’S REPORT 2014
This report covers the period of our financial year, namely from 1st January -31st December 2014. A busy, even exhausting, year at times with many challenges – but one which also brought its rewarding moments. As President I am grateful for the support and advice received from our committee and planning group members, from Head Office staff in Brisbane and from groups such as the NQ Conservation Council and NQ Wildlife Care.
Despite the loss of some members who moved interstate or transferred to other WQ branches our membership at the end of 2014 stood at 53, made up of 29 single memberships and 24 joint memberships, a slight overall increase on the previous year. Eight new members joined during the year.
28 new posts were published on the blog, not including the trip announcements which are subsequently deleted. Other posts included several in a series headed “What’s in your backyard” which gave members the chance to share some of their home-grown wildlife experiences by supplying their own photos and notes. Also, starting from July 2014, all our monthly updates were posted on the blog. This gives the updates more permanence and makes them accessible by anyone at any time. Members without email receive a slightly condensed print version of the update each month.
In addition to our members, we sent our updates and other news to two ‘friends and supporters’ lists which contain well over 100 addressees.
10 field trips were organised through the year with a variety of destinations from the very local (like Rowes Bay and Lou Litster Park) to further afield (like Hinchinbrook Channel and Cromarty wetlands). Our longest walk was the 15km Under the Radar trail traversing both Cape Pallarenda and Town Common conservation parks. Our shortest was the few hundred metres beside Ross Creek to discover the wonderful restoration achieved by our colleagues in the Coastal Dry Tropics Landcare group. Our most contrasting trips were the two cruises – through the majestic and mysterious Hinchinbrook Channel and the overwhelmingly popular repeat cruise of our familiar Lake Ross. Our most educational (and certainly one of the most enjoyable) was surely our low tide walk at Geoffrey Bay on Magnetic Island – which also brought us several new members.
Except where limitations had to be placed on numbers all were advertised in local media and open to anyone interested, young and old. Each trip report was posted on the blog and I am very grateful to those who assisted with species lists, identification and photographs.
While the quoll group was unable to organise any surveys during 2014, a phone call from a Black River resident reporting some ‘unusual’ animals on his land enabled the cameras to be put to good use. Three visits to his property were arranged, with Denise and Beth setting up several cameras to record and identify the animals. Thanks to Denise’s scrutiny of the resulting film their ID was confirmed as rufous bettongs – not rare, but worth knowing about in an area so close to the city. The records were passed on to DEHP and the property owner was delighted to receive positive identification and photos of his co-habitants.
For the first time in many years we once more had a stall at the City Council’s annual Ecofiesta in June. Our display focussed on flying fox issues and awareness, but also featured other Branch activities and concerns.
A number of members took part in a Fight for the Reef rally against the sea-dumping of Abbot Point dredge-spoil (January), March Australia (August), an anti-Ben Lomond uranium mine rally (July) and Climate Action Day (September) – the latter featuring the famous “Heads in the Sand” salute.
Together with NQ Wildlife Care, in November we organised and hosted Batty Hour on the banks of Ross River attracting a surprisingly good crowd of about 45 people.
Issues, Advocacy, Projects
Flying fox management remained a major focus of attention throughout 2014. We continued to work closely with NQ Wildlife Care advocates Dominique Thiriet and Jon Luly, and to liaise with the city council. I represented the Branch at two TCC workshops on flying fox management in May and September and one follow-up meeting with Council staff in October to discuss interpretive signage.
In June the media had a field day when a large number of Little Reds arrived in Dan Gleeson Gardens unfortunately causing extensive tree damage in an area too small for their numbers. This involved some concentrated efforts and media on our part to instil some calm and rationality into the debate.
The Burdekin Shire Council’s decision to disrupt a nursery colony of Black flying foxes in a Home Hill park late in the year also involved us in some urgent communication with the mayor and council staff and some media. This did not prevent the action going ahead but there has subsequently been some evidence that our arguments (and those of other groups and individuals who contacted the Council) have been taken on board by BSC council staff.
Great Barrier Reef: Threats facing this local treasure and national icon, along with the poor policies of both levels of government, remained major concerns throughout 2014. We continued to support key players like NQCC and AMCS whenever possible and to make our own voice heard through submissions. I attended one full day of hearings in July when the Senate Select Committee on GBR management met in Townsville.
Little Tern Roost sites: We supported calls from northern colleagues for action to protect endangered tern and turtle nesting sites on the Innisfail coast. The belief by some that “public beach access” also enshrines the right to drive vehicles across dunes and foreshores is something we need to be challenging.
Pied Imperial Pigeon documentary: In December the Branch approved a donation of $1000 to Tyto Consulting to support production of a documentary celebrating 50 years of the North Brook Island counts and recording the history and importance of these surveys.
Submissions were sent to: (1) Senate Committee – re Environmental Legislation Amendment Bill (Jan 2014) (2) GBRMPA – re the GBR Strategic Assessment documents (Jan 2014) (3) State and Federal governments – re Caley Valley dredge spoil dumping proposal (Dec 2014)
2014 was a very difficult year with the ascendancy of anti-environmental lobbyists and policies at both State and Federal level. However, adversity can be a powerful motivator for even small groups to try to be an influence for the better and keep the hope for change alive. We now have a new, if precariously balanced, state government that breathes a flicker of life into that hope but our task of being watchful guardians and defenders of our wildlife, vegetation, habitats and ecosystems remains as great as ever. The Society’s aims of Protecting wildlife ~ Influencing choices ~ Engaging communities should be guiding all our activities.
Liz Downes 26/4/2015