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The Great Sandy Strait Ramsar Wetland is integral to the health of the Fraser Island (K’gari) World Heritage Area. FINIA is opposed to any sources of pollution to the Great Sandy Strait based on the implications for habitat for critically endangered fauna such as shorebirds and turtles that are also known to feed and breed in the area.
Looking back after over 12 years of FINIA’s operations, we can sometimes forget the achievements of the group and its partners. These were brought home at a recent FINIA partner meeting held on Fraser Island (K’gari) to check field sites in addition to identifying new challenges for the World Heritage property.
In 2005, the group came together around the common issue of weed management and despite some massive wins across all land tenures (freehold, unallocated state land and National Parks), weeds and pests are still one of the biggest problems for the island and its native species.
In 2005, we looked at sisal hemp, a plant that was introduced to the Missions that were located on Fraser Island (K’gari). Today, we have an ever-growing list of plants like Abrus, Easter cassia and Brazilian cherry, that are invading the island. Twelve years ago, there were no cane toads in any of the waterways or Indian myna birds, cats and foxes hadn’t been caught on camera traps.
Thankfully, there are some success stories, bitou bush has almost been eradicated from K’gari, the Jamella leafhopper – which was destroying the island’s pandanus – is now being brought into check by the Aphanomerus wasp, which exclusively lays its eggs on the Jamella egg rafts.
FINIA is a great example of how much can be achieved by collaborating groups. But the take-home message is that we can’t hang up the tool belts yet.
Back in 2011, FINIA had a dilemma about how to use the nursery-raised plants using island genetic stock that needed planting out.
It was resolved to plant them at the western entrance to Eurong as a demonstration garden. Since then, as a result of increasingly closer collaboration between FIDO and the Eurong resort, the demonstration garden area has expanded significantly, changing and enhancing this side of Eurong.
It has been so impressive that FIDO was recently invited to do some landscaping inside the core area of the resort. Using 200 native plants from stock raised by FIDO in the QPWS Eurong Nursery, nine FIDO volunteers have created a new garden in front of the Tradewinds Units. Slowly but surely through landscaping, the Eurong Resort is fitting more comfortably into the natural environment.
Submitted by John Sinclair AO, FIDO
In March 2017, FINIA was contacted by the State Library of Queensland for permission to archive the FINIA Fraser Island Natural Integrity Alliance website https://finia.org.au/
The State Library of Queensland aims to build a comprehensive collection of Queensland publications to ensure the availability of our documentary heritage both now and in the future. The State Library’s commitment to preserving the documentary heritage of our state extends to contemporary electronic resources, including online publications and websites of lasting significance. This is achieved through participation in PANDORA, Australia’s web archive. (more…)
The March 2017 FINIA meeting, which was on held on Fraser Island, provided an excellent opportunity for the members of FINIA to see first-hand the work being undertaken on the island by teams of FIDO volunteers (supported by BMRG through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme), the Fraser Island Association [FIA], and the Fraser Coast Regional Council with the support of Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service. (more…)
After our tenth anniversary meeting held on Fraser Island (K’Gari) in December, a short digital story was produced to promote and highlight the achievements of FINIA over the years and its importance in tackling environmental issues on the island. Managing invasive weeds across the island was the initial focus of the association but activities have branched out to include a range of initiatives:
- native seed collection, propagation and revegetation (starting with ‘Plant me instead’ replacement programs
- pest management of the Jamella pandanus leafhopper and cane toad
- marine debris clean-ups
- research into fire and managing fire in Fraser Islands unique natural landscapes
- dingo management
- increasing knowledge of the island’s unique patterned fens and swamp orchids
- erosion and rainfall monitoring
- education and awareness raising activities
- cultural heritage mapping in conjunction with the Fraser Island World Heritage Area Indigenous Advisory Committee
Or check out the video on Vimeo here.
Sue Sargent was instrumental in bringing FINIA collaborators together back in 2005 and along with the BMRG deserves credit for the creation of this wonderful collaboration. She continues to be FINIA’s chief inspirer and facilitator. Recently, in the lead up to FINIA’s 10th Anniversary celebrations at Dilli Village, Sue circulated data about the founding of FINIA to the steering committee. Alongside the notes and details of the original Dilli Village meeting were a fascinating set of photos taken during that meeting and the coinciding inspections. These reminded us both of the problems we identified during that initial gathering, as well as of the people who attended.
Among the photos documenting the problems encountered, it was interesting to recall what we had seen of the sisal weed problem at Bogimbah around the site of many Butchulla graves. Other photos were of Eurong, where the problems were many and varied. I was amazed to note how many photos in the album featured an area that I have dubbed ‘Problem Corner’. It had the largest and densest assortment of weeds in all of Eurong. The problems were compounded after 2005, with an increase in general rubbish disposal in the area making it much harder and more dangerous to access and deal with the weeds.
Sue’s photos also highlighted the problems of dumping garden waste and lawn clippings in the bush. Lawn clippings serve as seedbeds for many weeds, and larger rubbish items make accessing problem areas for weed treatment more difficult; from FINIA’s inception, management of garden waste has been priority.
Addressing the problems of improper disposal of garden waste has also been high on FIDO’s agenda. One step towards resolving the matter has been the erection in strategic locations of large special bins exclusively for lawn clippings. This has effectively eliminated the problem of people dumping lawn clippings in Eurong’s bush areas or adding them to illegal rubbish heaps.
Other photos reminded us of who else was at the meeting ten years ago. Sadly George Haddock has passed on and other participants have followed their careers elsewhere, but many stalwart supporters of FINIA remain, including ‘JoJo’ Gala, who recently spent a break on the island weeding and helping in the monitoring programs.
FINIA has achieved so much in these last 10 years, with thanks due to a wealth of supporters and partners. More than offering a trip down memory lane, these photos should inspire us to look forward to the next 10 years and all that we can achieve together.
John Sinclair (AO), FIDO
When FINIA was founded in December 2005, the catalyst was a two-day gathering of a large number of groups and agencies at Dilli Village, Fraser Island, organised by the Burnett Mary Regional Group. Nobody then could have imagined that an organisation that has a set of objectives but no formal constitution, and therefore no formal membership, could have survived for so long and achieved so much just through communication and collaboration.
As an activist, over the last 10 years I have experienced at first hand the benefits brought by the cooperation between the parties to FINIA, all of which are keen to see the best outcome for the natural integrity of Fraser Island. Below are just a few examples of these many collaborations, without which we would not have made as much progress in our efforts to maintain Fraser Island’s natural integrity.
Kingfisher: While not part of FINIA, the Kingfisher Group has made a significant contribution to Fraser Island’s natural integrity by offering free ferry travel to volunteers working on natural integrity projects on the island. Eurong Resort offers accommodation for overflow volunteers. In return volunteers have made a significant contribution to providing a more natural, weed-free landscape setting for the resort. That and other parts of Eurong have benefitted from plants provided by the Kingfisher nursery. Eurong Resort’s cooperation has enabled a highly productive partnership to function with greater effectiveness in Fraser Island’s most visited single site.
Council: The Fraser Coast Regional Council carries out its own obligatory programs of weed control, but its collaboration to help volunteers working on Fraser Island’s weeds extends much further. Using a BMRG and other grants, FIDO has produced some attractive and helpful guides for landholders on what to plant and what to eradicate; the Council played a key role in distributing these to relevant ratepayers. The Council also played a seminal role in transforming a barren roundabout at the entrance of Eurong into an attractive demonstration garden, which is now being extended into the resort grounds. The Council has also provided FIDO access to storage space for its tools and equipment in a shared facility. Without this FIDO could not operate as efficiently at Eurong.
Happy Valley: To work in Happy Valley, FIDO needed a base and storage for our equipment. There was ready and willing cooperation from the Fraser Island Retreat. When we needed a site for a new rain gauge in the public interest, the most suitable site was on the Resort’s property and this is another important collaboration.
QPWS: The collaborations between the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and volunteer groups are many and varied. When FIDO needed a sign shelter moved from one site where it was rarely seen to a more central location, this huge challenge was made easy when QPWS stepped in with a tractor to do the heavy lifting. When a chainsaw was needed for some heavy weeds, the QPWS stepped in again. Among other ways, they have also helped with a tractor to clean up Problem Corner and provided us with chemicals at times. Without the support of QPWS, FIDO could not have achieved so much in Eurong.
Many other collaborations have developed. The cooperation from residents and property owners has been greatly facilitated by the Fraser Island Association. The facilitator in all of this continues to be FINIA, which is improving cooperation through better communication and networking between the key players working to protect Fraser Island (K’Gari’s) natural integrity.
John Sinclair (AO), FIDO
Four experienced and well-respected organisations have signed-on with QPWS to deliver an expanded volunteer program in about 50 parks and forests across Queensland until June 2015.
Under new Friends of Parks contracts, more than 20 part-time co-ordinators will be employed to recruit, train and manage volunteers for an estimated 68,000 hours of exciting new volunteer and voluntourism projects that assist front-line management of parks. (more…)