CONFLICT RESPONSE: The NBRF says Dick Barnes stayed away from any grants funding allocations.
CONFLICT RESPONSE: The NBRF says Dick Barnes stayed away from any grants funding allocations. Contributed

NBRF grants are 'all above board'

THE head of the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation has played no part in his group awarding more than $188,000 in grant funding to two organisations he is treasurer of.

NBRF deputy chair Clare Cartwright said the board chair Dick Barnes had deliberately stayed out of the decision process to award Noosa and District Landcare $123,700 and Country Noosa $65,000 in funding as part of its big ideas community grants.

"NBRF are very conscious of any conflict of interest,” Ms Cartwright said.

She heads a grants committee consisting of Deputy Mayor Frank Wilkie, Professor Karen Hussey, and Dr David Dique, and said none had conflicting links with potential applicants.

Ms Cartwright said Mr Barnes and his fellow NBRF board member and Noosa Parks Association president Michael Gloster had stepped aside because of their community links and "took absolutely no part in the grants process and awards”.

"The grants committee set the criteria and their decisions were final,” Ms Cartwright said.

"We are satisfied that this conflict of interest approach worked well and is our model for the future. In this way we allow directors to continue with their community work in other organisations and ensure no undue influences on any decisions,” she said.

Three NBRF grants have gone towards saving koalas, Noosa River erosion prevention and blueprinting a hinterland rural future.

Ms Cartwright said projects were assessed on their capacity to deliver environmental and socio-economic outcomes and the three are key initiatives to return long-term sustainability to the Noosa region.

Landcare's will help protect and repair erosion- prone areas identified by satellite analysis that have lost 2.5 million cubic tonnes of soil into the Noosa River in recent years and also trial a new water quality event monitoring system.

"The work Landcare is doing in the Kin Kin catchment has a direct impact downstream to Noosa in keeping our land and waterways productive and healthy,” she said.

Country Noosa's grant is to help better inform hinterland property owners on land use, sustainable farming practices and taking their produce to local and regional markets.

"The Country Noosa project will identify strategic opportunities for existing and potential landowners with a range of farm-based opportunities including primary production, carbon credits, and food tourism.

University of the Sunshine Coast's Koala Forever Noosa program receives $40,000 towards towards securing the future of wild koalas and wild koala eco-tourism in the Noosa Shire through habitat protection, conservation and connectivity.

Each of the projects will attract additional co-investment from other funding sources and services to the value of $342,330. She said the grants scheme is largely funded by the Noosa Council's environment levy.

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