Our Plan for Cairns Region

Last updated on December 11th, 2018

We live in a unique part of the world; we have an enviable, tropical lifestyle where our towns, cities and farms remain surrounded by spectacular World Heritage Areas.

We have an opportunity to really embrace our environment to enhance our urban communities and our natural and agricultural landscapes.

With our access to cutting-edge scientific research, as well as effective community groups working at a grass-roots level, we are able to make genuine contributions to planning and managing our environment. From our coastal landscapes, to our upland ranges and our diverse communities, we have a plan to help build a healthy landscape.

Our top three priorities

1. Community Values

We will work to ensure our community understands and appreciates the environmental, cultural, economic and recreational values of our natural areas.

We can use our urban environments to help build awareness within the broader community of good environmental management and the wide range of benefits it brings.

Simple approaches can be effective, like using local, native plant species in landscaping to reduce reliance on non-native garden species which may have weed potential. We also have a lot of groups within our community that we can work with, including schools and tourism organisations, to help get the message out. Empowering the community can leverage their passion and build community ownership.

“We want to use good planning to prevent future problems, rather than just fixing existing problems.”

Examples of our priority actions include:

• Provide workshops and education around tropically suited urban development.
• Deliver programs through the community and schools to build understanding about the ecological, economic, cultural and recreational values of natural areas.

2. Biodiversity

We will improve the condition and connectivity of our forests, building a mosaic of corridors to build resilience against threats, including climate change.

For an urban landscape, we are proud that we still forest areas within our landscape, and a very green feel. But we want to make sure we build even better habitat condition and connectivity – a mosaic of effective, vegetated corridors for wildlife to move across the landscape between the coast and ranges.

Managing threats like invasive species is also extremely important to allow for adaptability and resilience. Engagement with landholders is paramount to maintaining the landscape/ecosystem services.

“If too many urban trees are cut down this city would be hot and boring and not special anymore.”

Examples of our priority actions include:

• Establishing a community rapid response model for taking local, targeted action on high-impact, invasive species eg. yellow crazy ants.
• Protecting high value vegetation through planning or management to provide connectivity from the mountains to the coast.

3. Water

We will enhance the quality of our water and the condition of our waterways.

Our waterways are really important for so many reasons, as fish breeding habitat, for drinking and irrigation and recreation.

Traditional Owners have a strong connection to waterways. We know how important the water is that flows to the Great Barrier Reef. Good management of waterways and wetlands brings multiple benefits, and we should be focusing our effort on keeping them as healthy as possible. It is important to build a long-term sense of community stewardship of urban creeks, and empower them to demand better quality urban waterways.

“Its important to show how it can be done better, as an integral part of development.”

Examples of our priority actions include:

• Repairing urban waterways in collaboration with Traditional ecologists – based on Traditional Ecological Knowledge.
• Using a ‘model project’ approach to showcase riparian restoration success, with the aim of having healthy waterways from “creek to coral.”
• Develop demonstration site to showcase the benefits from “Green Engineering” solutions to urban drainage plans.

Other priorities:

In addition, our community recognises the importance of maintaining healthy and resilient coastal systems, to allow improved adaptation to the potential impacts of climate change.

We would also like to reduce our environmental impacts from food production by encouraging urban farming and community gardens, with less food miles and more sustainable production.

Click here for more details on the priority actions identified by the community for our Cairns Local Landscape.