In the fight for rain­for­est

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Shane Ni­chols

the army as a pri­vate and re­tired as a bri­gadier gen­eral, one of his last tasks be­ing the rais­ing of the 51st Bat­tal­ion Re­gional Force Sur­veil­lance Unit.

On the face of it it might seem un­likely that a mil­i­tary man has gone into bat for the birds and trees, but in the bri­gadier’s case you’d be wrong if you thought that. He served on the board of the Wet Trop­ics Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity be­fore he was asked to head up the Aus­tralian Rain­for­est Foun­da­tion.

Along with vi­tal sup­port of then and cur­rent Mem­ber for Le­ich­hardt, War­ren Entsch, he helped win $7 mil­lion for the foun­da­tion. It meant it could se­cure 32 blocks, of which it now has nine left, among them one at Mis­sion beach and four at Coop­ers Creek in the Daintree.

It se­cured the 80 hectares at Cape Trib for $2 mil­lion at a keenly bar­gained price (from $2.6m ask­ing price). But a key fea­ture of its strat­egy is not to own blocks for­ever but to buy them, re­turn them to rain­for­est, and then sell them to cus­to­dial land­hold­ers who ad­here to the strict covenants placed on them at the time of pur­chase.

‘‘We don’t want to be pay­ing rates on all th­ese blocks,’’ says Roger Phillips. ‘‘It’s a waste of money. Our pol­icy is one of re­volv­ing fund­ing so we can keep mov­ing on and do­ing more blocks.’’

ALL of us in­her­ited a wealth of reveg­e­tated rain­for­est last Satur­day, in to­tal 80 hectares of it.

RE­HA­BIL­I­TA­TION: prepa­ra­tion of the block fol­lowed ex­act­ing tech­niques

TOUR: guests at the cer­e­mony walk the block

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