$10M FOR DAINTREE
THE Daintree is set to become a world centre for rainforest research - as long as the Labor Party wins the federal election.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard promised $9.4 million for the proposed Daintree Rainforest Observatory during a campaign stopover in Cairns yesterday.
“It’s great news for the Daintree region,” JCU pro vice-chancellor for science and engineering Jeffrey Loughran said.
“This money will allow us to think pretty deeply about what we need to do.
“We’re trying to build a centre that would be unique in the southern hemisphere.
“A centre (like we’ve proposed) would allow researchers to carry out cutting-edge and fundamental research.
“It will allow us to keep the canopy crane and put in accommodation for 40 researchers.
“The current operation simply isn’t big enough to bring in large groups of researchers for long periods. This will allow that vision to be realised.”
JCU’s plan for the observatory, unveiled publicly on Monday, also includes a 100-seat conference venue, laboratories, classrooms, a public interpretive centre, an elevated boardwalk and a trail network so scientists can do fieldwork without getting lost.
The funding would allow JCU, which currently leases 1ha of the 40ha block where the crane is located, to buy the entire block.
“We took out an option to purchase the block last Friday,” Prof Loughran said.
As well as catering to scientists, the facility is expected to draw in tourists and locals to learn from the environmentally-aware centre, which will run on alternative energy sources.
“The interpretive centre is really important. Lots of tourists travel on that road,” Prof Loughran said. “We’re talking to various people about that aspect.
Owner of the Daintree Discovery Centre Ron Birkett said he welcomed the prosed centre.
“It’s a fantastic idea,” he said.
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