QUEENSLAND Environment Minister Vicky Darling this week launched Queensland's first whole-of-state blueprint that aims to protect the state's ecosystems and wildlife for future generations.
Under the new Biodiversity Strategy, the government will expand national parks, more than double the coverage of nature refuges in the state, develop a cassowary rescue plan and identify new wildlife corridors for protection.
A Joint Advisory Committee comprising relevant Ministers and experts will also be formed to help reverse the decline in Queensland's biodiversity and identify a list of 10 priority species in need of urgent recovery or intervention.
Ms Darling said 'Building Nature's Resilience: A Biodiversity Strategy for Queensland' would provide the state with a new comprehensive approach to managing its habitats and ecosystems.
She said a new approach was needed to focus on building the resilience of nature across the whole of the landscape – not just in national parks – in order to respond and adapt to the increasing threat to the environment posed by climate change.
The Biodiversity Strategy's primary goals are to reverse the decline in biodiversity and increase the resilience of species, ecosystems and ecological processes against threats such as climate change.
According to the government, the Biodiversity Strategy builds on projects and legislation currently in place and contains a number of priority actions and targets, including:
- Increasing nature refuges currently numbering about 400 and covering three million hectares to about seven million hectares by 2020 – this will be achieved through ongoing funding to support conservation agreements with private landholders across the state;
- Developing and implementing a Cassowary Rescue Plan in collaboration with key stakeholders in the Mission Beach area;
- Identifying priority corridors and develop sufficient information to inform biodiversity related investment decisions;
- Working with the Commonwealth Government in the Gulf of Carpentaria on the potential to complement their proposed Marine reserve in federal waters with a marine park in adjoining state waters in the southern end of the Gulf;
- Identifying areas of Unallocated State Land with high conservation values and transferring them directly to the protected area estate;
- Finalising the new Master Plan for Queensland's Protected Area System;
- Implementing 'flagship projects' that target cost-effective and on-ground actions for threatened species habitat protection and threat reduction;
- Identifying and monitoring threatened iconic species populations and reviewing and implementing recovery actions;
- Maintaining the total extent of Queensland's remnant vegetation above 138 million hectares (80 per cent of state area); and
- Identifying opportunities to maximise Queensland's share of funding under the Australian Government's proposed Biodiversity Fund.
Ms Darling also announced the establishment of an advisory committee to oversee the strategy's actions, supported by a dedicated unit within the Department of Environment and Resource Management.
"The Committee will include the Ministers responsible for Environment, Resource Management, Planning and Primary Industries as well as representatives from conservation, agriculture, natural resource management, Indigenous, urban and regional planning, and local government organisations," she said.
Ms Darling said the new Biodiversity Strategy had benefited from significant feedback received during a four month consultation period, with more than 200 submissions received.
'Building Nature's Resilience: A Biodiversity Strategy for Queensland', is available online from the Department of Environment and Resource Management website at <http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/>.