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THE 6th INDIGENOUS FIRE WORKSHOP GETS UNDERWAY ON CAPE YORK PENINSULA

FISAAC

Fire as an environmental remedy for bushland? At first look, it seems a counter-intuitive notion, especially in a land so determined, for good reasons, to prevent fire in its cities and countryside. But the idea that the right kind of fire at the right time might help rehabilitate “sick” country, get rid of weed pests and promote healthy growth of vegetation – well, it’s catching on. Traditional indigenous use of fire as a land management tool – looking after country – is increasingly informing land management practices by governments, farmers and environmentalists.

But it hasn’t been an easy journey. A decade or so ago, suggestions that indigenous Australians might be on to something were met with indifference, even open hostility. But indigenous fire practitioners were making a persuasive, some say, a compelling case. Fire, they say, is an essential ingredient in the health of the Australian bush – but that’s not a one size fits all prescription. If you’re going to burn a bit of country, you have to use the right kind of fire at the right time, and have a very clear goal in mind.

dd wshopToday, the sixth Indigenous Fire Workshop gets underway on Cape York Peninsula. People have come from all over Australia to walk the country- it’s Taepithiggi country – and learn from traditional owners and fire practitioners. How to read the land, the animals, trees, the seasons, and talk about the cultural responsibility of looking after country for future generations.

Victor Steffensen is an indigenous fire practitioner based in Cairns, and a director of Mulong, the company supporting the fire workshop. Victor talks about the many ways indigenous people use fire, and how their traditional knowledge increasingly informs non-indigenous land management.

LISTEN

 

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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Aboriginal, Cape York Peninsula, EFFINCUE, far north Queensland, indigenous, rd on the road

 

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THE GREAT BARRIER REEF – MORE THAN JUST SCIENCE. GET TO KNOW THE PASSIONATE STORY OF OUR REEF

REEFER

Our Great Barrier Reef is never far from the news headlines. Its well-being, its future, ways to exploit and preserve it, all regular subjects of community discussion and public debate here in far north Queensland and across the nation.

It’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the only living thing on Earth visible from space. It’s bigger than quite a few countries – a network of complex but vulnerable ecosystems that sustains an abundance of marine life. It starts offshore of Bundaberg and parallels the Queensland coast up past the tip of Cape York in a marine park some 2300km long. 345,000 square kilometres, three thousand individual reefs and a thousand islands.

The statistics and the science tells us a great deal about the reef and the threats it faces. But that is an incomplete story, according to Iain McCalman. Iain has gotten to know the reef over many years, and he believes the Great Barrier Reef was created as much by human imagination as it was by natural processes. By considering human perceptions of and interactions with the Reef, we gain a more complete understanding of it, and of how to care for it.

reefIain tells of the people drawn to the reef, often in life-changing ways, from Captain Cook and Matthew Flinders to castaway Ted Banfield and reef champions Judith Wright and John Busst – in his recently published The Reef – A Passionate History.

LISTEN to my interview with Iain McCalman here

Iain McCalman is a Research Professor in history at the University of Sydney and co-Director of the Sydney Environment Institute.

iain

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Cairns Queensland, Coral Sea, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland

 

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THE DAINTREE BLOCKADE 30 YEARS ON – THE START OF THE ROAD TO WORLD HERITAGE AND THE TOURISM INDUSTRY

DAINTREE FRONTLINE - PIC COURTESY www.wettropics.gov.au

DAINTREE FRONTLINE – PIC COURTESY RUSSEL FRANCIS

In early December 1983 far north Queensland was the lead story on the news just about every night. The Douglas Shire Council, with the support of the Queensland Government, began to push a road through pristine rainforest in the Daintree, north of Cairns.

The road had been proposed a number of times over three decades, but the sudden move to begin construction caught many by surprise and set off almost a year of protest in the Daintree rainforest. At its peak, there were confrontations between police and protestors, environmentalists maintaining vigils high up in the trees or buried up to their necks in soil, trying to block bulldozers.

This weekend, the blockade will be remembered at a 30th anniversary event at Ferntree Rainforest Lodge and many of the original protestors will be there.

While it ultimately failed to prevent the construction of the road, the blockade gave the Daintree a national, even an international profile that gave birth to the now lucrative tourism industry locals couldn’t begin to imagine back then. And it eventually led to the region getting a world heritage listing.

LISTEN to the story of the Daintree blockade here

 

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WHAT FNQ AND ECUADOR CAN LEARN FROM EACH OTHER TO LOOK AFTER OUR FROGS

frogABC Far North wildlife correspondent Martin Cohen has a visitor this week –  a man who’s travelled a long way to get to far north Queensland. He’s come all the way from Ecuador to check out our frogs.

OK – it’s a bit more than checking them out. Andres Merino-Viteri is an Ecuadorian herpetologist studying the physiological thresholds of Microhylid frogs in the wet tropics. There are about 500 species of Microhylids – small frogs found in tropical zones, including here in FNQ.

ANDRES MERINO-VITERI

ANDRES MERINO-VITERI

Andres worked at the Museo de Zoología at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador, hoping to find causes of the unexpected disappearance of several species of frogs along the Ecuadorian Andes during the 80s and 90s. Climate change was a key suspect, and some of these species are now possibly extinct. He’s working on his PhD project here, modelling the impacts of climate change on the range of Microhylid frogs and looking for ways to keep the frogs from extinction.

Martin and Andres met in Cairns six years ago – LISTEN to them talking about frogs and threats to frog populations here

Dr Martin Cohen is ABC Far North wildlife correspondent. Hear him on radio Wednesday afternoons at 445 or search for him on your podcast app.2 mart

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2013 in EFFINCUE, environment, rd on the road, wildlife and animals, Wildlife Martin Cohen

 

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A GUIDE TO THE SNAKES OF FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND – AND HOW TO BEHAVE AROUND THEM

SCRUB PYTHON - FNQ Pic Lyall Naylor

SCRUB PYTHON – FNQ Pic Lyall Naylor

There are few creatures that polarise opinion quite like snakes. Some folks love them, others run screaming at the mention of them, and there are those who think the only good snake is a dead one. Fact is, if you live in far north Queensland, sooner or later, you’re going to encounter one. What happens next is largely up to you.

The odds are in your favour. Most of the snakes you’ll meet here are not venomous. Yes – they bite, and you’ll need to treat the bite carefully to prevent a nasty bacterial infection. But it won’t kill you. We do have venomous snakes, but knowing how to behave around them will generally keep you safe. And knowing how to treat a bite  is an essential part of your FNQ safety drill. We don’t use razor blades or tourniquets any more – this is how it’s done.

We’ve got pythons, black snakes, browns, taipans, death adders, tree snakes, slatey greys – 43 species just in the wet tropics area and that’s about 30% of Australian snakes represented up here. Most snakes go out of their way to avoid humans, but they can be a danger to pets (especially the back yard chook) and kids. There are steps you can take to reduce risk, without harming snakes, and there are plenty of trained people around Cairns who will come and remove a snake for you, often at no cost.

This Sunday, Lyall Naylor will be talking about snakes at the Mount Molloy Community Hall at 10am. Lyall has been working with snakes for decades now, at Taronga Zoo in Sydney and the Australian Reptile Park with renowned Australian herpetology pioneer Eric Worrell

More recently, Lyall’s been working in the lush tropics north of Cairns. He says snakes generally don’t bite people. People get bitten by snakes. LISTEN to my interview with Lyall here

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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in Cairns Queensland, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, wildlife and animals

 

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GARDENING WITH AUSTRALIAN NATIVE PLANTS IN FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND

THE BUMPY SATINASH MARTIN BOUGHT WILL LOOK LIKE THIS WHEN IT GROWS UP

THE BUMPY SATINASH MARTIN BOUGHT WILL LOOK LIKE THIS WHEN IT GROWS UP

As the gardeners of far north Queensland know, lots of plants love our tropical climate and do really well here. Some non-native or introduced species do well too, but some just can’t handle the weather. People choose plants and trees for their gardens for all sorts of reasons – appearance, fragrance, reminds them of somewhere else, easy to look after, low maintenance.

2 martOur wildlife correspondent Martin Cohen would like you to think about native plants for your garden.  He was in a plant buying kind of mood when we drove along the Kennedy Highway south of Mareeba, and as we got close to Walkamin, Martin said “there! Over there, pull in there”. The there he was referring to is the Yuruga Native Plant Nursery. He bought some plants, and we had a yarn bout the virtues of native plants with Marcus Achatz.

LISTEN

Dr Martin Cohen is ABC Far North wildlife correspondent. Hear him on radio Wednesday afternoons at 445 or search for him on your podcast app.

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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Cairns Queensland, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, Wildlife Martin Cohen

 

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CAPE YORK PENINSULA FERAL PIGS – HOW DO WE STOP THEM KILLING OUR TURTLES?

BoarDamage3When Captain Cook landed at the Endeavour River in far north Queensland in 1770, a lot of things changed. Local indigenous people had what was probably their first encounter with Europeans, the outside world became aware of a place that would soon be explored and its resources exploited. And pigs came into FNQ. Almost 250 years later, there are at least three million of them, maybe many more, roaming Cape York Peninsula, eating whatever they can. They’re the ideal genetic mix to survive, to flourish, in this tough tropical climate. As the pigs thrive, other species suffer, none more so than the turtles that breed along the beaches of western Cape York.

Feral pigs dig up turtle nests not long after mother turtles lay their eggs in the sand, and they often come back for another go when the eggs are close to hatching. At some locations, rangers and scientists have observed 100 per cent of turtle nests wiped out by pigs. Other species will take turtle eggs – dingoes and goanna in particular, and other creatures try to take the hatchlings as they make their way to the sea. But the pigs take more eggs than other predators, and there are so many pigs that the turtles don’t stand much of a chance.

There are many local programs working to control pig numbers and to protect the two main species of turtle in the region – the Flatback and the Olive Ridley. Regional organisations have helped link those groups to broaden their scope and focus, but all are constrained by the regular fluctuations in government funding for research, observation and on the ground measures to get at the pigs and protect turtles. Pig hunting for sport or for meat is increasingly practised, but makes only a very small dent on total numbers.

Shane Forrester and Ben Jones have plenty of experience in this area of the Cape. Shane is the project manager of the Cape York Weeds & Feral Animals Program http://www.cywafap.org.au/home.html Ben is the project manager at the Cape York Sea Turtle Program http://capeyorkseaturtles.blogspot.com.au/

LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear Shane and Ben talk about the scale of the feral pig problem, efforts to deal with it, the successes so far, and what more could be done.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2013 in Aboriginal, Cape York Peninsula, EFFINCUE, environment, far north Queensland, indigenous, wildlife and animals

 

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