Call of the wild funds upsets CARA leader
A COOROY community leader is calling for the Noosa Council to reintroduce funding grants for the Land for Wildlife property owners to help preserve the local environment.
Cooroy Area Residents Association president Rod Ritchie is unimpressed the council will offer grants to voluntary conservation agreements only as part of its new conservation land guidelines adopted by councillors last week.
"I hate it that council has never thought it an important enough scheme to reinstitute grants," Mr Ritchie said.
"This scheme was so important and cost effective. Why didn't we get a say on this important topic?”
At the last council general committee meeting Cr Ingrid Jackson raised these concerns expressed by Mr Ritchie and other ratepayers.
"Staff explained that council offers nest boxes, advice and a newsletter to Land for Wildlife participants," Cr Jackson said.
In a written reply to one ratepayer's concerns Mayor Tony Wellington said the LfW grants introduced by the previous regional council were discontinued following de-amalgamation.
"Land for Wildlife is a voluntary designation that does not transfer with ownership of the land. It therefore has a largely symbolic function," the mayor said.
"VCAs are more robust with greater longevity and the legal ability to add permanently to the overall conservation estate. I accept that some people may believe we should be providing funding to individual LfW landowners for work on their properties."
Cr Wellington said council asked if a majority of ratepayers would be happy to have an increase in their rates in order to support individual landowners with works that many could, arguably, fund themselves.
He said the LfW decision was in line with council's approach to using ratepayer funds for broad community benefit "rather than the benefit of an individual ratepayer".
"Because VCAs add to the conservation estate in perpetuity, they plainly add more in the way of community benefit," Cr Wellington said.
"As a means of adding to the overall conservation estate, they represent excellent value for money as compared with the outright purchase of environmentally sensitive land by council. VCAs are funded through the environment levy for this reason."
Mr Ritchie remains unconvinced.
"I'm not sure a rate rise is necessary for better fund(ing of) the LfW program, rather just better distribution of existing funds," Mr Ritchie said.
"And some good old Noosa consultation. The current environment levy is finding its way into the pockets of corporations (Ringtail Creek) and private landowners (Johns Landing)."
Mr Ritchie posted a map online that he said demonstrated the levy land funding "has almost exclusively gone to Noosa catchment properties and hardly any to the Mary River catchment".