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Our conservation priorities for tomorrow

Contact Call | Volume 11 Number 3 | September 2022

Have you ever wondered how the BirdLife Northern Queensland (NQ) committee determines just which projects we should prioritise for our limited resources and efforts – for example, why have we focused on crane counts or grasswren surveys? There are several criteria we use – is the species unique to our part of the world? Endangered? Of unknown status? And critically, do we have a local champion – someone who will drive our work and make sure it doesn’t slip off the radar of our committee and members’ attention! Some current projects which get past these first checkpoints are the crane counts, grasswren surveys, beach-nesting birds, our higher altitude Wet Tropics endemics (especially bowerbirds), our key biodiversity areas (KBAs), and the communications and marketing which is needed across these projects to ensure they can engage our supporters and partners.

The strategic planning team

To be successful and to even know if they are successful, we need a plan to guide our work – you know the old saying “if you don’t know where you are going then any ‘ole path will do”! But we don’t have the luxury of wondering around any which way, because time is running out for our unique birds – highlighted so dramatically by the recent report on the State of Our Environment released in July 2022. Also, as a volunteer group, we need to be realistic about what we can achieve – what can WE do to make a difference? So, to give us guidance on where exactly we should head over the next five years, the BirdLife NQ committee held a conservation planning meeting with invited local experts and champions.

Fifteen of us met at Halloran’s Hill, Atherton – in an environment reminding us why we make the effort to protect such wonderful places that are home to our unique birdlife. We were even joined by James Matcott from Melbourne, the BirdLife Australia Network Liaison Officer and Community Organiser, who provided some interesting insights into the new BirdLife national strategy plan. Both he and Golo Maurer (BirdLife Australia Citizen Science Program Leader) also gave various commitments on how our national office can support our efforts.

Also joining us was Evizel Seymour from Terrain Natural Resource Management (NRM) who came along to learn more about BirdLife NQ and to help us strategically plan.

The participants put their collective heads together and produced draft action plans based on their vision of where we could realistically be five years from now – if we work together and stay focused.

The day’s discussions followed a process used by myself as facilitator.

We settled on these priority projects along with their new tag line:

  • Grasswrens after 2023 – “Grasswrens save the northwest”

  • Cranes on the Tablelands and beyond – “Make Cranes Great Again (MCGA)”

  • Altitudinal Threatened Species – “Birds with Altitude”

  • Key Biodiversity Areas – “The Key is Biodiversity”

  • Communicating/Marketing our work – “You Better Like Birds” says Bird Catter

A quick summary of our results, plus the lead person for each is given in the September 2022 edition (Volume 11 Number 3) of Contact Call. So, if you would like to find out more about each of these projects, or better still, get actively involved with our work, please contact each of them. We look forward to seeing regular updates on their progress in future issues of Contact Call.

Report by Kath Shurcliff, images by James Matcott.


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