Coast environment reaps benefit of Levy
  • Saturday 20 October 2012

The region continues to benefit from Sunshine Coast Council’s Environment Levy Program which has protected more important habitat for conservation, helped restore coastal foreshores and invested in new community conservation partnerships during the last 12 months.

Presented at council’s Ordinary Meeting yesterday, the Environment Levy annual report highlights the achievements of the program during 2011/12.

Environment Portfolio Councillor Tony Wellington praised the dedicated and passionate council staff who work in the environment field.

"In the last 12 months, council has purchased four more strategically located properties. They will add a further 188 hectares of land to be protected for conservation," he said.

"Major restoration projects are also underway at high profile foreshore sites from Caloundra through to Noosa.

"Council continues to build partnerships with the community and landowners. With over 50% of the region’s remnant vegetation occurring on private land, private landowners and not-for-profit community environmental groups play a huge role in preserving and rehabilitating our natural ecosystems.

"On-ground support and education geared towards biodiversity conservation has been provided to over 1100 landowners through the Land for Wildlife program.

"Indeed, the contributions from landholders and volunteers generated through community conservation partnerships amount to around $24 million worth of in-kind labour and support.

"That’s a terrific return on council’s investment, and a great demonstration of our community’s environmental passions."

The objective of the Environment Levy Policy and Program is to purchase environmentally significant land for its protection; establish partnerships with community groups and landholders; and deliver major initiatives and projects.

The Environment Levy Program complements the strategic direction set by a number of council’s endorsed strategies including the Sunshine Coast Biodiversity Strategy 2010 – 2020 and the Sunshine Coast Waterways and Coastal Management Strategy 2011 – 2021.

Some of the achievements during 2011-12 include:

  • The acquisition of four high environmental value properties, contributing a further 188 hectares for conservation.
  • Rehabilitation of key coastal foreshore sites from Caloundra through to Noosa spit.
  • Commencement of a recreational water quality monitoring program.
  • Approximately $640,000 awarded to 228 private landholders through the Landholder Environmental Grants program for natural resource management projects which contribute towards biodiversity conservation on private properties
  • Approximately $52,000 awarded to 11 not-for-profit community groups through the Community Environmental Grants program.
  • The establishment of an additional 5 three-year Community Environmental Partnerships and 3 one-year partnerships valued at approximately $256,000.
  • Fourteen new private landholder partners entering into a Voluntary Conservation Agreement with council, bringing the region’s total to 54 private properties, protecting 780 hectares
  • Launch of a Backyard Biodiversity Module to complement council’s Living Smart Homes program and delivery of extension activities such as presentations on growing native bushfoods and native wildlife.
  • Rehabilitation and maintenance of over 40 hectares of land within the Mooloolah River riparian corridor targeted for revegetation, weed removal, and existing remnant vegetation care.

To find out more about the Environment Levy Program and Policy, or to view the 2011-2012 Annual Progress Report visit council’s website.