There’s many people and groups around the region working to improve reef and waterway health. Cathy Retter is the President of Kuranda Envirocare and spoke to us about her long involvement in landcare, and some of the challenges – and achievements.
The more involved I got, the more I understood how precious our environment is.
An amateur interest in plants kickstarted Cathy’s involvement with the group all the way back in 2005.
“I was semi-retired and wanted to work in a nursery so I joined Kuranda Envirocare’s nursery. I didn’t
know much about the bigger picture, I just knew the rainforest was beautiful!
“The more involved I got, the more I understood how precious our environment is.
“One of the biggest challenges we’ve seen over the last 15 years is the reduction in the amount of
funding that comes to land care, to restoration of habitat. This is especially alarming when you look at
deforestation rates – it means we’re already behind the eight-ball when it comes to planting.
“Say we plant 5000 trees in a year – that might only be two hectares. We need to take a good look at
where people are clearing and if there’s any way we can reduce that, then we should be trying.
“The challenge is finding a balance between a growing population that needs more and more space
for people to live in, and keeping space for the other creatures that are here. I remember crying when I
learnt that of all the mammals on Earth, 96% are livestock and humans and only 4% are wild.
“Habitat destruction is a pressing issue. It’s a major challenge to reverse the decline of threatened
“In Kuranda, a lot of freehold land has the same values as world-heritage-listed rainforest but it’s
not protected in the same way. We help landowners to apply for voluntary declarations – which are
agreements under the State Government’s Vegetation Management Act that protect areas of privately-owned native vegetation.
“Kuranda is at a bottleneck in the world heritage area, with just a narrow corridor connecting the
northern and southern parts. Every piece of habitat counts. Every tree counts.
“It tends to be older people in landcare groups, and we’ve been a bit in despair about this over the last
decade but we’re starting to see more young people getting involved. Covid has meant that people
stop and think about what matters to them. We’re definitely seeing more young people since Covid.
“There’s some very special about young people doing this. Holloways Beach Coastcare’s coordinator,
Sarah, has been doing a stellar job at getting other young people putting trees in the ground. We have
to make sure we’re nurturing our next generation of landcare leaders.
“Landcare is a brilliant way of connecting with likeminded people. I guarantee if you’re out planting, or at our nursery, you’ll be chatting and laughing and having a great time.”
Kuranda Envirocare has been operating for over 20 years. Volunteers are currently working at Cain Creek to create wildlife corridors and habitat for the critically endangered Kuranda tree frog.