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Symposium puts North Queensland’s Threatened Species in the spotlight

Jaana Dielenberg (Threatened Species Recovery Hub, The University of Queensland)

North Queensland is a hotspot for biodiversity in Australia but many species in the region are at risk, with 188 species and 4 threatened ecological communities listed as threatened.

In February an event led by the North Queensland Natural Resource Management Alliance – a partnership between the regions three natural resource management (NRM) groups: Cape York NRM, Terrain NRM, and Northern Gulf Resource Management Group – brought together people working on the frontline to save these species, including conservation and Indigenous groups, as well as research, industry and government organisations. 

This event, the inaugural 2021 North Queensland Threatened Species Symposium, was held in Cairns over two days and was a sell-out success attended by over 150 people, including: the Threatened Species Commissioner, Dr Sally Box, all levels of government, the community, NGOs, Traditional Owners, Indigenous Rangers, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and scientists. Attendees included many people who are part of a recovery team for a threatened species or community in the region. 

The aim of the symposium was to increase knowledge exchange and collaboration between organisations and individuals working to conserve threatened species and ecological communities in the region. 

The magnificent broodfrog is an endangered species that is found only near Ravenshoe in north Queensland. Credit: Michael Anthony
Littoral rainforest and coastal vine thickets is a critically endangered ecological community in north Queensland that was discussed during 2021 North Queensland Threatened Species Symposium. This ecological community provides habitat for over 70 threatened plants and animals. Credit: Julie Lightfoot, Terrain NRM.

The symposium was supported by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub of the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program, who presented a wide variety of new research results at the event to help ensure this work can make a difference on the ground. 

Presentations and workshop themes were diverse, covering: challenges and opportunities for North Queensland’s threatened species recovery, threatened species management and recovery planning, community and First Nations engagement, policy and planning, habitat management and research opportunities.

A key take-away message from the workshops and group discussion was the importance of including Indigenous Traditional Owner’s right from the start of endangered species rehabilitation projects.

The Chair of the North Queensland NRM Alliance, Emma Jackson, said that many of the region’s threatened plant and animal species are endemic to north Queensland. 

This is not just about wanting to save our favourite animals,’’ she said. “Biodiversity is also the basic foundation for life—it’s what makes the earth habitable. Each individual species has a role to play in the ecosystems that we depend on for clean air, food and water.

The North Queensland Threatened Species Symposium was supported through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and National Environmental Science Program. It was sponsored by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub, The Nature Conservancy, South Endeavour Trust, Bush Heritage and the Wet Tropics Management Authority. 

For more information, contact the Threatened Species Recovery Hub here: tsr_hub_enquiries@uq.edu.au

This article was first published in the ESA Bulletin March 2021. 

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