A Levy well spent
  • Thursday 11 December 2014
Planting day at Kirby's Road Environmental Reserve

Anyone wondering how their Environment Levy had been spent would not be disappointed after reading the 2013/14 annual report, which Council noted at its Ordinary Meeting today.

The Environment Levy Annual Report 2013/14 details the many significant achievements made possible by the $11.27million contributed entirely by the region’s ratepayers.

With the support of the Environment Levy in 2013/14 Council continued to:

  • buy, protect and enhance environmentally significant land
  • deliver on-ground environmental projects
  • build Council’s knowledge of its environmental reserves and sunshine coast waterways through scientific research and monitoring projects
  • engage, support and partner with the community to deliver conservation outcomes.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said the Environment Levy provides a source of funds well beyond the capacity of Council’s general revenue to manage the environment.

“The Levy allows us to be more than just caretakers of our environment—it allows us to think big and deliver game changing projects that will protect, enhance and support our greatest asset now and into the future,” Cr Jamieson said.

“Last year we spent $6.13 million buying environmentally significant land in the form of four new reserves totalling 398 hectares. That brings the total to over 2,761ha since the Levy began in the early 90’s.

“That alone is impressive but coupled with a comprehensive establishment program and you’ve got the knowledge to make informed decisions based on solid scientific and cultural heritage data.

“We know we have endangered, vulnerable and threatened plant and animal species on these new reserves plus significant cultural heritage finds. Knowing this helps us determine appropriate management practices and feeds into our planning for recreational and research opportunities that won’t compromise the environment.

“Also, thanks to the commencement of an extensive $570,000, four year fauna monitoring project covering 10 existing reserves, we’ve begun to establish an impressive list of fauna including one of Australia’s rarest rodents, the water mouse and confirmed sightings of the endangered Coxen’s fig parrot, which is so elusive it’s never been photographed.

“This data enables us to develop effective long-term monitoring programs and improve reserve management to maintain and enhance ecological values.”

Environment Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said everyone benefits from the Levy.

“We spent almost half a million dollars rehabilitating coastal reserves last year. On the surface that’s managing weeds and establishing native plants, but it’s those plants that secure the dunes in a storm event, ultimately meaning nicer beaches for you, me and our visitors” Cr McKay said.

“Council also spent nearly $162,000 supporting Healthy Waterways organisation, which means supporting programs which deliver and influence improved waterway health.

“And it’s also not just council delivering through the Levy, with over 50% of the region’s remnant vegetation occurring on private lands, engaging, supporting and partnering with the community is an essential component of the Levy.

“Last year Council partnered with 649 Land for Wildlife members, supported 58 voluntary conservation partners, funded 26 not-for-profit community groups and provided $384,000 in Landholder Environment Grants to private landholders.”

Investments by the Environment Levy are guided by Council’s environmental strategies including the Biodiversity Strategy 2010-2020, Waterway and Coastal Management Strategy 2011-2021 and Local Government Area Pest Management Plan 2012-2016.

For a full list of Environment Levy achievements the full annual report is available to view on council’s website www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.
Hardcopies of the report, featuring a survey and competition, will be available in January 2015 at council libraries, customer contact centres and outlets across the Coast.