Links between science and conservation, sustainable development and learning are the topic of discussion in the Wide Bay region today, where the inaugural Australian Biospheres Conference has kicked off.
At the conference, Minister for Environment and Minister for Science Leeanne Enoch said the conference brought together a diverse range of experts to explore the challenges we face as population growth puts pressure on the natural environment.
“Queensland is home to two of Australia’s 14 Biosphere Reserves – the Great Sandy Biosphere Reserve on the Fraser Coast and the Noosa Biosphere Reserve,” she said.
“A biosphere reserve is a UNESCO designated area containing one or more protected areas and is managed to combine both conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
“The Great Sandy Biosphere Reserve here on the Fraser Coast is an excellent example of how these unique areas can help protect wildlife, ecosystems and cultural values on the one hand, while meeting the needs of industry and local communities on the other,” Ms Enoch said.
“Both the Noosa and the Great Sandy biosphere reserves promote greater community awareness of natural values, thriving sustainable tourism industries, improved land management practices and management of marine resources.
“They encourage communities and visitors to work, live and play in ways that support the resilience of ecosystems and improve our society’s ability to cope with climate change.”
The Australian Biospheres Conference was coordinated by the Great Sandy Biosphere Management Group and the Burnett Mary Regional Group, and includes topics such as eco-champions and reef guardians and the role of community in economic development.
Chair of the Great Sandy Biosphere Management Group and CEO of the Burnett Mary Regional Group, Sheila Charlesworth, said she was thrilled with the response to the conference, with speakers and delegates attending from throughout Australia and overseas.
“This inaugural conference is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the Great Sandy Biosphere”, Ms Charlesworth said.
“The Great Sandy Biosphere is an important site for conservation at a state and global scale, including habitat for more than half of Australia’s bird species, more marine fish diversity than the Great Barrier Reef and 40% of the world’s perched lakes.”
Ms Enoch said the Great Sandy Biosphere encompasses 1.4 million hectares, made up of 542,000 hectares of marine ecosystems and 874,000 hectares of diverse landscapes, including the world’s best observable example of ancient sand dunes.