Snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef.
Snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef.

REVEALED: The plan that could give Bundy 1800 jobs and $680m

A REPORT commissioned by an alliance of 70 conservation and agricultural organisations to study the financial viability of investing in conservation and land management has found a whopping 1800 full-time equivalent positions could be created in the Great Barrier Reef catchment area.

The analysis by Ernst & Young, released today, says an investment of $150 million by the Federal Government, matched by $100 million from the state and $50 million co-investment from delivery partners could provide the 1800 jobs over a period of four years.

The report reveals the investment would provide $680 million in long-term economic benefits for the region.

The report predicts the Bundaberg region would see a 10 per cent rise to a 17 per cent unemployment rate in the wake of the coronavirus.

"The natural wonders and local communities of the Great Barrier Reef region attract millions of domestic and international visitors every year, contributing $6.4 billion annually to the national economy," the report states.

"These communities have been hard hit by COVID-19 restrictions and are likely to experience lasting economic impacts due to continuing restrictions on international travel, with young workers likely to be most highly impacted."

The report highlights the fact The region is home to two internationally important conservation icons (the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics World Heritage Areas); more than two hundred national parks, nature refuges and Indigenous Protected Areas; internationally and nationally important wetlands; and exceptionally diverse fauna and flora (including nationally and internationally listed threatened and migratory species).

The report calls for a five-point plan to help protect the local environment, ensure the viability of tourism and create jobs as unemployment rises.

The recommendations are:

1. Improving the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef

Scale up and accelerate efforts to restore riparian vegetation, reduce pollutant runoff, enhance farm sustainability, improve reef water quality and restore coastal marine habitats.

2. Protecting, managing and restoring rainforests in the Wet Tropics

Work with private landholders, public land managers and traditional owners to restore and expand rainforest habitats and manage key threats to rainforest habitats and species in the Wet Tropics.

3. Supporting improved management of protected areas

Deliver a surge in management effort across national parks, private protected areas and Indigenous Protected Areas to tackle long-term conservation threats like fire, weeds and feral animals.

4. Tackling invasive species and supporting threatened species recovery

Implement strategic management interventions for invasive and threatened species that will leave a lasting legacy (e.g. invasive species control on coastal islands).

5. Indigenous land and sea management

Building on existing capacity in the region, work with indigenous partners to support long-term conservation outcomes and capacity development.

It is recommended that this federal investment be delivered through three complementary funding pathways: (a) regional conservation and land management partnerships (one per NRM region); (b) direct funding to state conservation agencies; and (c) a competitive funding round in early 2021.

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