The Queensland government has announced a $700,000 funding package for national parks in the wake of the state’s devastating floods, offering community group grants to aid the clean up.
Environment minister Meaghan Scanlon made the funding announcement on the Gold Coast on Sunday, offering money for community-led conservation projects in national parks.
She said the grants would go towards community projects to clean up the national parks which have been battered by fires and recent floods.
“We’re providing grants of up to $20,000 to help them do things like weeding, planting, doing new map trials to make it an even better experience for tourists,” she said.
“To work with First Nations communities to ensure that when tourists come they really understand the significance of this land to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“I encourage those community groups across the state to look online and apply this grant.”
The Palaszczuk government is offering up to $20,000 in grant money for each community, charity, not-for-profits and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporation to take up a project.
About 40 Queensland national parks remain closed or partially closed and the government is attempting to open up the natural destinations in time for the Easter influx of tourists.
With the Queensland school holidays less than two weeks away and Easter Friday just under four weeks away, Ms Scanlon said she wanted the parks up and running as soon as possible.
She said that each year national parks generated $2.6bn for the state’s economy, not including the flow-on for other local businesses.
“They also come to spend money at local restaurants, cafes, pubs and club,” Ms Scanlon said.
“Today they are very busy in Burleigh which is wonderful to see.”
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service ranger Mark Patenaude said community groups were vital to keeping national parks healthy and thriving.
“I can’t underestimate how important those community groups are in protecting those reserves,” he said.
“Directly and indirectly through the appreciation of the protected areas. They show a lot of passion and pride when they come out and do this sort of work. You get to understand what the cultural and natural values are.”