Natural Asset Management - March 2013

National Environmental Research Program (Tropical Ecosystems Hub)

The NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub is addressing issues of concern for the management, conservation and sustainable use of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef and its catchments, tropical rainforests including the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, and the terrestrial and marine assets underpinning resilient communities in the Torres Strait through the generation and transfer of world-class research and shared knowledge.

As a key end user, Local Governments are represented on the rainforests project implementation group by FNQROC. We were also successful in securing a minor project in the program's knowledge brokering contestable funding.  The project will work closely with researchers to identify methods of utilising the outcomes of the research program.  The Tropical Ecosystems Hub of the rainforest program addresses three key themes which are relevant to Local Government operations, conditions and trends in north Queensland rainforests, threats to rainforest health, and managing for resilience in rainforests.

Over the next three FNQROC newsletters we will focus on one of the three themes in a little more detail so watch this space.

For more information go to http://www.nerptropical.edu.au/

QPWS pest planning workhops

As managers of our national park estates and the region's biggest landholder, QPWS are key stakeholders in managing pest animals and weeds across the region.  I attended two regional (Cape York and Tablelands) pest planning workshops with QPWS over the month of February.  It was a valuable to get an overview of key programs and intiatives from across the region and to inform operational staff from the department on some of our key initiatives like the gamba grass management project across FNQ and Cape York.

We are acutely aware of the resourcing challenges facing Queensland departments at present and it is more important than ever to focus on operational and strategic partnerships wherever we can to support the efforts of our on-ground staff.

National Management Committee meets to negotiate the draft Siam Weed Management Strategy

The National Management Committee for the Siam and Four Tropical Weeds Programs met this month to discuss the draft transitional management strategy for the program.  Going into the meeting, Local Governments were a little underwelmed by the scope and intent of the plan.  Key points of concern were a dilution of national support, lack of a clear coordination and leadership structure and limited detail of the economic instruments required to transition this 1.5 million dollar program to local communities.  We have spent a great deal of time articulating our concern in the handling of the cessation of this and other programs in recent times.  At this point in time we are awaiting release of the revised management plan which we expect will address these concerns prior to considering or recommending support.

It was acknowledged by most stakeholders that a coordinated approach and management strategy that adequately represents the stakeholders involved is important for this less than desirable transition in management to proceed. On a more positive note, delegates were presented with a progress update on a biocontrol agent for Siam weed which is currently making good progress toward release.  To this end we will be corresponding to the Federal Minister in regard to ensuring the agent is expedited through the AQIS referral process as a matter of priority.  Biocontrol agents like the gall fly in this case are very rarely silver bullets in weed management, but do often assist in reducing dense infestations and their impacts.

  siam_one   Siam weed, considered one of the world’s worst weeds and the target of an eradication program for the past 17 years, is now subject to a transition in management strategy. The process and timelines for the transition have fallen well short of Local Government expectations to date. With a flowering and seeding period beginning in May-June and no coordinated program in place we can expect Siam will begin to spread from current infestations this year.         siam_two  

FNQ Pest Advisory Forum

A reminder for those who have not done so to have a look around the FNQPAF website to receive forum meeting invites and keep in touch with the latest alerts and news.

Upcoming events:

Regional Vertebrate Pest Working Group: April 2013

Pond Apple Working Group: May 2013

NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub Conference, Cairns: 7-9 May 2013