Save the Daintree rainforest
The Daintree is Australia’s LARGEST rainforest. It is arguably the most biodiverse rainforest on the planet. It has been continuously evolving and growing, living and breathing, for as many as 180 MILLION YEARS.
By comparison, the Amazon is 55 million years old. The Daintree is of international conservation importance as one of the most significant regional ecosystems in the world.
One would think that the creation of the Daintree National Park - and subsequent World Heritage Listing - in 1988 would secure the unique environment of the Daintree rainforest forevermore.
In 1983 the Douglas-Shire Council pushed ahead with a controversial plan to construct a permanent road from Cairns to Cooktown which was supported by the Bjelke-Peterson State Liberal Government. The publicity generated by the 1983-84 community blockade provided a turning point in the campaign to protect Queensland's tropical rainforests. (Check out Bill Wilke’s The Daintree Blockade.)
In 1988, the Hawke Federal Government listed the Wet Tropics Rainforests as a World Heritage Area. Due to its constitutional powers relating to international agreements, the Federal Government was able to overrule the Queensland State Government.
While the World Heritage Area included the majority of the upland areas of the Daintree Rainforest, it excluded most of the hill faces and coastal lowlands. Ten years prior to the World Heritage listing, large sections of the lowland rainforest were subdivided for residential development by a Cairns property developer.
Originally there were 1,100 subdivided blocks of land. Many were not built on because there is no bridge over the Daintree River (access is by ferry) and no mains electricity. However developers have left a legacy of freehold properties in the heart of the Daintree Lowlands surrounded by the National Park and the World Heritage Area and these properties are now being steadily developed.
Various attempts by governments have failed to solve the problems created by the residential subdivision. In 1984 the Federal and State Governments funded the $23 million Daintree Rescue Program to be implemented over four years. This was successful in purchasing a number of significant blocks of land for inclusion in the Daintree National Park, as well as developing eco-tourism infrastructure. However large amounts of critical conservation land were still not protected.
Prior to the 2004 election the Federal Government committed $5 million to the Daintree; however, this was largely diverted to landholder education rather than the much-needed buy back.
In June 2004 the Douglas Shire Council implemented a 12-monh moratorium on approval for development in the Daintree while it prepared a Douglas Shire Draft Planning Scheme for the area. Fortunately, the Queensland State Government (again immediately prior to the 2005 State Election) also committed $5 million and following adoption of the Scheme in 2006 committed another $5 million.
The Douglas Shire Council Planning Scheme protects 350 properties north of the Alexander Range, which have been acquired with Queensland Government funds. The Scheme also created "Rainforest Residential and Rainforest Tourism Precincts" where development is allowed and will be concentrated. Properties with building permits obtained before the adoption of the Scheme also retained these rights. Therefore, development can still proceed north of the Alexandra Range including at Cow Bay, Diwan and Cape Tribulation. Land south of the Alexander Range remains unprotected by the Scheme and development proceeds unchecked.
Rainforest Rescue's Daintree Buy Back and Protect Forever Project purchases and protects high conservation value rainforest at risk of development. Nature Refuge status is then created which protects the properties forever under covenants ratified by the Queensland Parliament in Australia.
Our vision is to buy back and protect all remaining high conservation value properties in the Daintree lowland rainforest by 2030.
Daintree Vision 2030 - to buy back all remaining threatened rainforest properties in the Daintree
There are roughly 180 Daintree properties that Rainforest Rescue needs to buy back. We want to see all of these protected by the year 2030.
Although the clock is ticking, there is still time for us to achieve this vision, and make a serious difference to the preservation of this critically important region with its remarkable biodiversity. We believe the many values of the Daintree rainforest should be protected for future generations so that they too can be inspired and amazed by its incredible beauty and diversity, and that the Daintree can continue to protect and nurture biodiversity, mitigate against climate change, and be available for study as rainforests around the world often hold treatments and cures for illnesses…and for so many other reasons. Perhaps the best reason to protect the Daintree is simply to protect Nature from development – to stop its destruction. Until Nature has rights under law and until it can speak for itself, its up to people like us – like you and me – to stand up for Nature.
The choice is between being able to secure a biodiverse future for the Daintree, or face the prospect of losing this forest and its species forever.
Rainforest Rescue has an ambitious plan for the future of the Daintree rainforest. We want to buy back more properties than ever before and we urgently need your help to make this vision a reality.
Ultimately, to buy back every one of these properties, we need to raise approximately $15 million. But what is a rainforest worth? Can we put a price on its irreplaceable values? Not really. Which is why we feel this 2030 vision is not only attainable; it’s exactly what we should be doing.
We hope you’ll agree that this vision is vital, tangible and achievable.
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