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As the famous Paul Kelly song goes ‘from little things big things grow’ and that is certainly true for an inspiring hinterland couple who have set about restoring their own rainforest, one tree at a time.

Richard and Kerrie purchased their former grazing property at Bald Knob near Maleny in 2016 and discovered an incredibly special remnant of original rainforest.

Surviving in this 1.3-hectare patch were native rainforest plants, including the endangered Maroochy Nut (Macadamia ternifolia).

With a lot of hard work and dedication, and a little help from Sunshine Coast Council’s landholder environment grants, Richard and Kerrie started on a plan to expand this tiny rainforest into the cleared areas of their property.

Apply for Landholder Environment Grants now

From July 8, the Environment Levy funded grants will open once again for expressions of interest for the 2024 funding round.

Rural landowners can apply for financial help to complete on-ground environment projects on their private property.

Grants of up to $15,000 are available for projects, including bush regeneration, reducing sediment loss on farms, excluding stock from waterways, controlling environmental weeds, modifying non-boundary fencing to make it wildlife-friendly, revegetating degraded areas and establishing vegetation corridors and buffer zones.

Sunshine Coast Division 5 Councillor Winston Johnston said the grants were funded by the Environment Levy and delivered on Council’s Environment and Liveability Strategy objectives.

“Year on year, the Landholder Environment Grants continue to support rural property owners restore their properties and Council is very proud to be a partner in their success,” Cr Johnston said.

“One success story is a 7.3-hectare former grazing property in Bald Knob that has previously received grant funding as well as advice through Land for Wildlife,” Cr Johnston said.

“Starting out as beginners, the owners have planted more than 8600 trees in the past eight years and are now seasoned veterans when it comes to rainforest revegetation.

“The landholders have contributed their own labour as well as funds towards the total project cost and I congratulate them for their determination to improve their local environment.”

Restoring valuable rainforest

Even the smallest rainforest remnants, such as the one remaining on Richard and Kerrie’s property, are incredibly valuable.

These areas can also provide information to inform species selection for local revegetation projects.

Of course, not every species can be bought at a nursery, and the plethora of other organisms that inhabit our local rainforests are not included when we simply plant out rows of trees.

Rainforest remnants, such as this one, provide a source of original genetic material from which plant seeds, fungi and fern spores, invertebrates, and wildlife can disperse.  

As such, this important remnant assists the newly planted areas and helps to re-establish the incredible biodiversity that Land for Wildlife landholders, like Richard and Kerrie, are working so hard to restore.

Applicants should submit EOIs now

Environment and Liveability Portfolio Councillor Maria Suarez encouraged rural landholders to check the guidelines on Council’s website to see if their project was eligible.

“The grants are a competitive process and priority will be given to projects with high ecological value and those which have good landowner co-contribution,” she said.

“Last year 87 recipients shared in $325,000 under the Landholder Environment Grants program.

“The Landholder Environment Grants help rural property owners enhance their beautiful slice of the Sunshine Coast, which benefits the biodiversity of our whole region.”

Only private rural landholders can apply, and the project must occur on privately owned rural land within the Sunshine Coast Local Government area.

Applying is a three-stage process:

  1. Expressions of Interest open July 8, 2024. Submit an Expression of Interest before August 12, 2024. 
  2. Site visit from a Sunshine Coast Council Conservation Partnerships Officer to assess the project and provide any additional guidance.
  3.  Apply online before September 30, 2024.

The total grant funding pool available is $325,000.

Submit your grant EOI

Please read the Landholder Environment Grant Guidelines