Funding for hands-on conservation jobs in reef catchments welcomed

15 July 2020

$10 million announcement highlights potential for conservation and land management jobs to aid economic recovery

The Pew Charitable Trusts, NRM Regions Queensland and Queensland Water and Land Carers have welcomed today’s announcement that the Queensland Government will invest $10 million to deliver practical conservation and land management jobs in the Great Barrier Reef catchment.

The jobs boost, announced today by Premier Palaszczuk and Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch, is intended to provide unemployed and underemployed Queenslanders with temporary nature-based employment as the economy recovers from COVD-19.

“This investment recognises the opportunity to provide practical work and economic benefits for Queensland’s regional and remote communities to aid economic recovery, while leaving lasting benefits for Queensland’s environment, agriculture and nature-based tourism industry,” said Pepe Clarke, Deputy Director, Pew Charitable Trusts.

“These jobs will also deliver positive environmental outcomes such as improved resilience to natural disasters, improved water quality, habitat restoration, and weed and pest management.”

“Unemployment is likely to increase when JobKeeper ends, leaving hundreds of thousands of people out of work across Australia. We encourage the Queensland Government to build on today’s announcement by making further investment in nature-based jobs as the full economic impacts of COVID-19 become clearer in coming months,” said Mr Clarke.

“A coalition of conservation and farming organisations have been working with the Queensland Government to highlight the opportunity for jobs in the conservation and land management sector to deliver practical, hands-on work for regional and remote communities,” said Chris Norman, CEO of NRM Regions Queensland.

“We welcome the Palaszczuk Government’s announcement of this funding and encourage them to consider making further investments in protecting, conserving and managing our iconic natural assets,” said Mr Norman.

“In regional areas this sort of work not only provides opportunities for young people, Indigenous people and the general community but the connections that get made build resilience in the community,” said Shelly McArdle, board member and spokesperson for Queensland Water and Land Carers.

“After all that has happened with flood, drought, fire and now COVID, this gives our community a welcome lifeline. This sort of hands-on positive work is exactly what we need to improve community well being,” said Ms McArdle.

The Pew Charitable Trusts, NRM Regions Queensland and Queensland Water and Land Carers are part of a coalition of over 70 conservation and farming organisations who came together to develop a plan for economic stimulus through a large scale conservation and land management program. The coalition released a report on the economic benefits of the proposed program earlier this month. [1]

Notes for editors:
NRM Regions Queensland is the representative body for natural resource management in Queensland, providing a single, strong voice for the 12 regional natural resource management groups covering Queensland’s entire land mass.
The Pew Charitable Trusts is an international research and public policy organisation that works in Australia to promote conservation and sustainable management of Outback landscapes and the marine environment, working in partnership with landholders, industry, traditional owners, scientists and conservation organisations.
Queensland Water and Land Carers is the peak body in Queensland for natural resource management (NRM) volunteers and part of the National Landcare Network.
[1] The Ernst and Young analysis found that Port Douglas, Whitsunday, Cairns, Livingstone and Isaac are predicted to be the hardest hit local government areas in Queensland once JobKeeper ends in September. The analysis also found that the benefits of investment in conservation and land management jobs as part of economic stimulus include:
• The ability to employ many workers with no previous experience in conservation and land management work, allowing people who have lost their jobs in other sectors to participate in the program.
• The creation of thousands of jobs in the conservation and land management sector, which will reduce the demand for welfare payments such as JobSeeker and Youth Allowance.
• The ability to temporarily transfer workers who have lost their job in different industries may prevent displacement of people to other regions.
• The nature of the program, which involves many labour-intensive tasks, means that much of the work can be completed in a Covid-19 safe environment.
• The potential for participants in the program to upskill or retrain in conservation and land management roles, ensuring the creation of practical and transferable skills such as teamwork, communication, leadership and job readiness.
• The proposed activities build on existing models and mechanisms, which will help drive the success of the program.
• The increase in conservation and land management efforts has the potential to improve future agricultural productivity and reduce the cost of restoration of degraded environments.