Reef Assist 2.0 Delivers Green Jobs
Tree planting along riverbanks and restoring wetlands are among some of the new Reef Assist 2.0 projects funded by the Queensland Government, which are creating jobs in environmental restoration and helping to improve waterway health.
To date more than 55 jobs have been created in the Wet Tropics
The Wet Tropics region is receiving an economic boost of up to $4.77 million through five new projects funded under the $33.5 million Reef Assist program. The projects are being delivered in 2023 and 2024 and are spread from the Upper Daintree to the Johnstone catchment and out to the Atherton Tablelands.
The program delivers priority environmental projects that create practical, on-ground regional jobs for Queenslanders, tackling a range of environmental issues to improve water quality flowing to the Great Barrier Reef.
The second iteration of the program, Reef Assist 2.0 is focused primarily on reducing sediment and nutrient loads running off the land to the Reef with 11 projects across the six natural resource management regions in the Great Barrier Reef catchment.
The Wet Tropics projects are being led by Greening Australia, the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Jaragun EcoServices, Johnstone Region Landcare Group and the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, in partnership with delivery agents and Traditional Owner partners. On-ground works include the revegetation of degraded landscapes including streambanks, gullies and wetlands, erosion control, weed management and the restoration of habitat for threatened species including the southern cassowary, Bennett’s tree-kangaroo and the spotted-tailed quoll.
The Reef Assist program is focused on creating jobs for First Nations people, young people, and unemployed or under-employed people, and providing on-ground and job readiness training to help with career development. To date, more than 55 regional jobs have been created in the Wet Tropics through the new projects, with over 60 per cent of positions filled by First Nations people. Training undertaken by participants includes certificates in conservation and land management, remote first aid, chemicals handling, chainsaw usage, drone operation and water quality testing.
Reef Assist Program Managers Rachel D’Arcy and Mel Shepherd, from the Office of the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage in the Department of Environment and Science toured the Wet Tropics region to visit the project sites and meet with the people employed through the program. This included young First Nations people in their first paid job who were excited to be doing environmental work in beautiful environments, outdoors and on Country – from rainforest and riparian areas to farmland.
In short: Reef Assist 2.0 projects
- Riparian revegetation – Upper Barron and Johnstone catchments
Led by the Wet Tropics Management Authority, this project is restoring degraded cattle country in partnership with NQ Land Management Services on the Atherton Tablelands.
- Wetlands and cane drainage water quality treatment systems – Mulgrave catchment
Greening Australia, Madjanji Aboriginal Corporation and Mulgrave Landcare are working together to repair and revegetate wetlands and cane drainage systems. A nursery has been established, where a team of project staff and local volunteers propagate seeds to produce plant stock for future projects.
- Wetlands restoration – Russell catchment
Jaragun Ecoservices are working with a dedicated team of First Nations staff delivering a project to revegetate both natural and constructed wetlands to filter dissolved inorganic nitrogen running off the lands into the Great Barrier Reef.
- Riparian Revegetation – Johnstone catchment
Johnstone Regional Landcare Group is revegetating sites along the Johnstone River and extending corridors and habitats for wildlife including the cassowary. The team of up to 26 staff are also collecting seeds and propagating over 100,000 native trees for future use.
- Rainforest revegetation – Daintree catchment
Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation are establishing a 630-metre rainforest corridor along the Daintree River at the culturally significant Wawu Dimbi ‘Place of Spirits’, which will provide habitat for Bennet’s Tree Kangaroos, spotted quolls and cassowaries, among other species.
**The $33.5 million Reef Assist program is funded through the Queensland Government’s Queensland Reef Water Quality program. For more information, visit: www.qld.gov.au/environment/coasts-waterways/reef/reef-program/reef-assist