Healthy Habitats was an initiative of the Burnett Mary Regional Group to protect and enhance the region’s significant biodiversity assets throughout the Burnett Mary Region in Queensland, which includes the Burnett, Baffle, Isis, Kolan and Mary Catchment areas.
Healthy Habitats was funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments through the ‘Caring for our Country’ Program. There were three core components of the Healthy Habitats program:
- On-ground investment in terrestrial and coastal biodiversity priority areas
- Priority species and ecosystems research and monitoring
- Biodiversity education and awareness raising
The objective of the program was to support a range of high priority activities and to improve the long term security of the region’s significant biodiversity assets. This program was managed by BCCA in the inland Burnett area from 2011 – 2013, engaging landholders and other partners to undertake projects that would protect threatened habitat. The works predominantly involved funding for fencing and additional water, weed and pest control on identified areas of semi-evergreen vine thicket or brigalow belah ecosystems or other known threatened species habitat. Threatened species habitats targeted for protection with this program included flora species cycads Cycas megacarpa and Macrozamia parifolia as well as a rare wattle species Acacia grandifolia . Fauna species habitat protected under this program included the Red Goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiates) and Southern Spotted Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus).
Since the start of the project in October 2011 landholders have protected more than 1,000ha of endangered ecosystems, most of which are in small remnants smaller than 50ha in size. In addition to these threatened ecosystems, more than 30,000ha of habitat for threatened flora and fauna was protected.
The contribution from landholders towards these projects was substantial, with one landholder contributing as much as $2.80 for every $1 that the Healthy Habitats program provided. On average landholders received $8,225 to undertake the on-ground activity on their property to protect the natural assets, and on average contributed just less than that amount again. In total, the amount of money spent by landholders and the Healthy Habitats program in the inland Burnett over the 2011-2013 financial years was $427,409.
In addition to the on-ground works, the Healthy Habitat program in the inland Burnett also included running workshops, production of case-studies and promotion of and participation in the Land For Wildlife program. There were 11 workshops run or supported by BCCA, partnering with organisations such as AgForce, North Burnett Landcare and Birdlife Australia Bundaberg branch plus others to offer relevant workshops on natural environment issues to almost 300 participants over the two years of the program. These workshops were promoted using our own network of members, but also in partnership with Burnett Mary Regional Group and other networks.
The Land For Wildlife program was run together with the Healthy Habitats program as a way of incorporating habitat protection with formal voluntary recognition of the works. Most of the 10 Land For Wildlife registrations over the two years were not as a result of funding for on ground works through the Healthy Habitats program, but through general interest in the program and in wildlife conservation.