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Powell Media Release – Friends of Parks boost Sunshine and Fraser Coast national parks (7 April 2014)

Environment and wildlife warriors across Queensland will soon be pulling on the work-boots to help care for parks and forests, thanks to a $63,650 Queensland Government Friends of Parks contract awarded to ECOllaboration.

Member for Glass House, Andrew Powell MP, said the $1.5 million Friends of Parks initiative was helping the Queensland Government deliver on its election commitment to enhance volunteering and “voluntourism” in Queensland’s national parks.

“The group will coordinate more than 20,000 hours of voluntary service for parks and forests around the Sunshine Coast and Fraser Coast over the next year, thanks to the grant,” Mr Powell said.

“Volunteering has received a significant boost this week with the approval of contracts worth almost $880,000 under the Friends of Parks Program.

“ECOllaboration has strong links with many local community groups and will be working closely with groups such as Fraser Island Defenders Organization and Sunshine Coast Bushwalkers, Sunshine Coast Trail and Endurance Riders and Bushrangers Mountain Bike Riding club.”

Jacqui Smythe, ECOllaboration’s Environmental Project Manager, said the organisation was excited to be part of the Friends of Parks program. 

“With our long history in co-ordinating volunteers in environmental management, we have seen time after time the amazing benefits these programs have, not only for the local environment, but for the volunteers themselves,” Ms Smythe said.

“Volunteers become ambassadors for their local patches. This environmental stewardship is increasingly seen as an important approach to improving and conserving landscape health.  The positive benefits of this relationship can’t be expressed highly enough.”

Mr Powell said the volunteers would be working alongside Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) rangers in Great Sandy and Conondale national parks.

“They will assist in maintaining walking trails and multi-use trails including horse riding trails, staffing visitor information centres, campground hosting on Fraser Island, Conondale national park, and Imbil, Jimna, Amamoor and Brooyar State Forests, weed removal and revegetation, and helping with the nursery based at Cooloola.

“This will be an invaluable boost to parks on the Sunshine Coast and Hervey Bay region, and QPWS hopes it will encourage many locals to become regular volunteers for parks.”

National Parks Minister Steve Dickson said Friends of Parks contracts had also been awarded to WildMob, Conservation Volunteers Australia and Australia Nature Tours – all highly regarded and experienced in the delivery of volunteering services.

“These contracts will see more than 20 part-time co-ordinators across the state – the equivalent of four full-time staff –recruiting, training and supervising community volunteers to help support front-line management of our parks,” Mr Dickson said.

“This stage of the Friends of Parks program will deliver almost 68,000 volunteer hours to assist QPWS in managing some of our most beautiful and iconic national parks.”

This is the second stage of the already highly successful community small grants program, which is currently being rolled out across the state.

ENDS- 7 April 2014

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