Fontes heads new environment group
THE Whitsundays has always been considered the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and now we have our own regional environment group to help protect that claim.
Whitsunday local Tony Fontes is the new campaign manager for the recently established Environment Council of Central Queensland (ECoCeQ) - a regional organisation based in the Mackay and Whitsundays area.
Mr Fontes has campaigned tirelessly for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsundays environment in recent years and is currently chair of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Local Advisory Committee. He is directly involved in the Order of Underwater Coral Heroes, Seagrass Watch and Mangrove Watch and he stood as a candidate for The Greens at the recent state election.
While there are regional environmental groups up and down the Queensland coast, the Whitsundays has been without a regional voice until now.
The council’s aims are to work closely with existing groups in the region to protect environmental values including the climate and the Great Barrier Reef.
“At the end of the day, it’s the grass roots movement that’s most effective in waking government up to the kind of policies and changes that we need to protect the reef and the environment as a whole,” Mr Fontes said.
“ECoCeQ will hopefully help lots of smaller groups to co-ordinate and become more effective in their own right.”
ECoCeQ’s region extends from St. Lawrence to Bowen, east to the territorial limits of the Commonwealth of Australia including the islands and the Great Barrier Reef and west to the Queensland border.
“It is important to note that ECoCeQ will be looking both east to the Great Barrier Reef as well as west to the Queensland outback,” Mr Fontes said.
“Many of the pressures on the reef are land-based, such as catchment runoff. As well, climate change is high on our agenda and the main drivers behind climate change are fossil fuels.”
Mr Fontes said the new position was an opportunity to get more engaged in the “bigger picture”.
“One a personal basis, I wanted to go that next step up,” he said.
“I’ve been a volunteer for a long time and... I hope that I can now be a little more effective at doing what I love, which is protecting the reef.”
ECoCeQ wants to assist individuals and local groups in Central Queensland to take up environmental issues.
People in the region who would like to join ECoCeQ or perhaps start their own local environment group can contact email@example.com.
STILL GREEN: Tony Fontes, who recently contested the state seat of Whitsunday for The Greens, has now stepped into a new role as campaign organiser for the region's latest environment group the Environment Council of Central Queensland.