Full steam ahead for Noosa’s missing green link

The Yurol /Ringtail project is, quite simply, the most significant environmental achievement I will see in my lifetime.  

Such is the importance of this transformational project, now coming together after an extraordinary feat of sheer determination from our leading Conservation group NPA and other key Government, Council and private players.

This project will see 2,389 hectares [ let’s call it 2,400 Ha] of land between Pomona and McKinnon Drive transition from State Forest to National Park over a five-year period. 

It has long been an aspiration of Noosa Parks Association to link Cooloola and Noosa National parks, however procuring land of this size has always been problematic.

The land was under lease to H Q Plantations [HQP}, growing both softwood [Exotic pines] and hardwood [mainly Gympie messmate] under an agreement with the State government.

In 2016 discussions commenced with HQP, and after many months the board of HQP responded positively with in principle agreement, price, and conditions.

NPA’s Michael Gloster first brought the Deputy Director General of the Agriculture Department who headed up Forestry and Fisheries on board, with an agreement that they would take the concept to the Minister.

Then came a meeting with the Director General of the Environment Dept and staff, who also supported the concept and agreed to seek Ministerial support. 

Noel Playford – another NPA figure (and contributor to Noosa Matters) arranged each of these meetings, a path he could smooth thanks to years of dealing with the key players when he was Mayor.

Noosa Council were then briefed on the proposal which was embraced enthusiastically by then Mayor, Tony Wellington and CEO Brett de Chastel initially, and subsequently received full council approval. I am not surprised!

In essence this project sees 2,400 hectares of land come across to National Park at a cost of $3.5 million. This money would come equally from the Department of Environment and Science [DES] , Noosa Council and Noosa Parks Association.

So, the ratepayer gets 2,400ha of National Park at a cost of $ 1.16 million. A residential house in Pomona is selling for $1.2 million these days!   What incredible value for money.

An MOU was arranged which also established a Transition Committee to oversee and coordinate project management. It would be expected that the Noosa Council and NPA would fund any remediation work.

Harvesting of the existing timbers occurred between 2018 and 2023. HQP for the Softwoods, The Agriculture Department for the Hardwoods. And the Department used Koala detection dogs to identify existing koala populations, and care was taken during harvest operations. They concentrated on the Gympie messmates and left endemic eucalypt species as habitat.

With a project of this significance, word gets around. Greenfleet is a long standing Not-for-Profit working in the carbon emissions field. Their CEO, Wayne Wescott expressed his company’s interest in being involved. Greenfleet would take on the restoration activities if the State could grant them the rights to carbon credits. This was worked through and Greenfleet were on board. 

The traditional owners – the Kabi Kabi people – worked with Greenfleet to establish an Indigenous Land Use Agreement [ILUA]. Greenfleet also agreed to provide funding for the employment of Kabi Kabi people and undertake cultural surveys on the site. 

This is where my group comes in. Noosa & District Landcare Group [NDLG] was engaged as the contractor to carry out the on-ground works and host the Indigenous trainees. 

The on-ground works have been tough but rewarding. We knew that we would be working in post-harvest areas with a lot of debris on the ground, significant weed regrowth, and the Gympie messmates have a habit of shooting from the cut stump. Some regeneration would occur naturally, however there would not be a lot of diversity in Eucalypt species, particularly feed trees for Koalas. This was a focus of the revegetation on the land – to re-introduce koala feed trees. The initial dry period we endured, followed by an extended wet spell, made conditions challenging for our crews. 

From 2022 to May 2024 NDLG has planted: –

  • Yurol – 77,288 trees over 193.2 hectares. 
  • Ringtail – 55,624 trees over 139.1 hectares. 
  • A total of 132,912 trees over 332.3 hectares

In addition to Greenfleet, contributions to the project have come from The Body Shop, Peppers Noosa Resort and Villas and the Burnett Mary Regional Group. 

By any stretch, this has been an outstanding project.  The Yurol/Ringtail Project would not have happened without the foresight of the NPA, the good connections, and the goodwill of the many partners involved. 

This is a great legacy for future generations and something every Noosa resident should celebrate. 

Read Tony Wellington’s account of the unexpected ‘koala dividend’ from this extraordinary project.


This Post Has 2 Comments

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    Certainly a great project contributed to by many concerned organisations, with the foresight of NPA leadership. And certainly a great legacy for every Noosa resident to celebrate.

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