Environment and natural assets reinforced in council budget

Sunshine Coast Council

Our enduring commitment to our environment and maintaining our natural assets remains a core part of Sunshine Coast Council’s 2021/22 $816 million budget.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said council’s budget was focussed on creating a safer, secure future and, for many residents, council’s long-standing efforts to preserve and enhance the region’s liveability and natural environment were an important part of securing our community’s future.

“Our Banksia award-winning Environment and Liveability Strategy has continued to shape our natural environment and landscape priorities and this is no less so in this year’s budget which has allocated $35 million to environmental initiatives,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“Our council’s strong commitment to our region’s environment continues to provide a legacy for our community now, and for many generations to come.

“Our environment and conservation programs are the envy of other local governments and we are investing far more in this important area of responsibility than many other councils.

“This includes our signature, inter-generational legacy commitment associated with managing and growing our conservation estate, which now exceeds 7000 hectares.

“This is just one of a plethora of programs, actions and initiatives that our council continues to drive to preserve the liveability of our region and respond to the impacts of a changing climate.”

Mayor Jamieson said council’s Environment Levy Program continued to deliver widespread benefits to preserve and enhance our region’s valued natural environment.

“This year, the Environment Levy will increase by $4 to $80 and raise $11.9 million,” he said.

“It will continue to provide opportunities to grow and enhance our conservation estate by securing additional environmental lands; protect important habitat for native plants and animals; build our knowledge; and partner with the community to take environmental action.

“Council will continue to support our environmental partnerships and grants, education programs and other incentives and deliver catchment and coastal rehabilitation projects as we remain focussed on nurturing the rich biodiversity across the breadth of our region.

“The $4 increase in the levy this year is forecast to raise $600,000, the entirety of which will be allocated to improving our region’s response to weeds.

“This will entail targeted weed management demonstration programs; building community, industry and other agency partnerships; and exploring and trialling new technology to improve the identification and management of weeds on the Sunshine Coast.”

Mayor Jamieson said council’s commitment to the environment remained extensive in line with the expectations of our community.

“We cannot however, do this alone and this is why we work with a number of partners to continue this important work,” he said.

“In particular, we are fortunate that Sunshine Coast is home to many environmental and conservation volunteers who we continue to work closely with and whose efforts are of inestimable value to achieving our sustainability goals.

“To this end, council will invest $2 million in supporting volunteers and private landholders caring for our environment through the Bushcare, Voluntary Conservation Agreements and the Land for Wildlife Program – the largest program of its kind delivered by a local government in Australia.

“Council is also investing $1.3 million to connect people with nature through the management, operation and delivery of community programs at our environmental visitor centres including the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Gardens and Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary.

“Our award-winning Kids in Action Program will continue to increase the knowledge and understanding of our young people of the environment and provide opportunities for them to take positive environmental and sustainability action.”

Mayor Jamieson said council continued to invest in major catchment management initiatives to improve the health of the Sunshine Coast’s waterways.

Blue Heart Sunshine Coast, one of our region’s game-changer environmental assets, which I launched in July 2019 with the then Environment Minister and Unitywater, will receive a further $100,000 towards achieving its objectives to respond to climate risks, provide important flood storage areas and help build our community’s resilience for the future,” he said.

Environment and Liveability Portfolio Councillor Peter Cox said council’s recently endorsed Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy, which seeks to ensure the natural and built assets in our coastal zones are resilient to climate change impacts and used sustainably, was informing the delivery of a number of important projects for our region.

“This includes progressing the second stage of the Maroochydore Groyne Field Renewal, in which council will invest $1.1 million this financial year,” Cr Cox said.

“This project will look to complete, over two years, the renewal of this ageing coastal protection structure at Cotton Tree and in line with community expectations.

“Council will allocate $380,000 to renew a number of our beach access points across the region, so they are maintained to a safe standard and accessible to our community and visitors alike.

“As a surfer myself, I understand how important these access points are to our community and equally, how important it is to ensure they are maintained in a way that is both sustainable and sensitive to their natural environmental setting.

“Council will also be allocating more than $600,000 to undertake the Maroochydore Beach offshore nourishment trial with preplanning to start early in the new financial year.

“Another $1.1 million will also be invested in erosion management, restoration and management of coastal reserves.”

Fellow Environment and Liveability Portfolio Councillor Maria Suarez said council would continue its environment levy acquisition program, investing $3.7 million this financial year.

“Now at more than 7000 hectares, our expanding network of environment reserves is protecting habitat that supports our native plants and animals and provides opportunities for our community to participate in conservation activities and to experience the natural environment,” Cr Suarez said.

“The criticality of growing our conservation estate as a further means of preserving natural ecosystems and habitat corridors is something that has become an ingrained part of our council’s DNA and I see the clear benefits of this in my own division, which is home to council’s largest environmental reserve at Doonan Creek and the Blue Heart.

“In this budget, our council will continue to deliver environmental offsets on council land and invest in activation works on our region’s recreation trails.

“Council will also continue investing in fire management activities in our environmental reserves, which serve an invaluable dual purpose in terms of regeneration as well as enhancing community safety in the event of bushfires.

“It’s our council’s strong commitment and continued focus on preserving the region’s natural assets and maintaining our desirable lifestyle that will see us realise our vision for the Sunshine Coast: Australia’s most sustainable region – healthy, smart, creative.”

Budget highlights:

  • $4.3 million in environment reserve bushland restoration, weed management and operations
  • $3.7 million for environment levy acquisition program
  • $2 million to support volunteers and private landholders in caring for our environment
  • $1.8 million in recreation and activation projects on environmental reserves.
  • $1.3 million to connect people with nature through the management, operation and delivery of community programs at our environmental visitor centres.
  • $1.1 million to progress the Maroochydore Groyne Field Renewal Stage 2
  • $1.1 million for erosion management, restoration and management of coastal reserves
  • $700,000 to deliver environmental offsets on council land
  • $600,000 to undertake the Maroochydore Beach offshore nourishment trial with preplanning to start early in the new financial year
  • $600,000 for a targeted weed management program, exploring new technologies to improve our community’s response to identifying and managing high priority invasive weeds
  • $380,000 for beach access renewals
  • $370,000 in activation works on our region’s recreation trails
  • $200,000 for fire management activities on environment reserves
  • $250,000 for Stage 2 of the Ashwood Place Wetland renewal project at Currimundi, to improve water quality outcomes for Currimundi Creek
  • $100,000 for Blue Heart Sunshine Coast
  • $155,000 in flying fox education, engagement and roost conflict management
  • $100,000 to remove litter from waterways
  • $60,000 for waterway rehabilitation – reinstating riparian vegetation, improving aquatic habitat
  • $30,000 for catchment management – erosion and sediment control and partnering with industry and natural resource management groups
  • $30,000 for waterway quality monitoring program

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