Neither the States nor the Commonwealth can continue to meet the expanding cost of nature conservation from tax revenues alone. We must therefore look for additional ways to conserve and manage our fabulous biodiversity.
We are not alone - against the global economic backdrop, nature conservation is increasingly becoming the responsibility of community-based organisations. In the USA, for example, there are now tens of millions of members of non-government bodies that in turn manage millions of hectares of land for wildlife conservation.
Around the world, it is regionally-based organisations that are the fastest growing sector in non-government nature conservation. In the UK, the regional Wildlife Trusts have doubled their combined memberships to over 650,000 over the past 5 years, based on a practical ‘grassroots’ approach. The Conservancy has a ‘twinning’ arrangement with the oldest of these, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust in order to tap in to their wealth of experience and avoid many of the pitfalls they have encountered over the past 50 years.
To be ready for this brave new world, we in tropical Queensland need to bring about a paradigm shift in attitudes and rapid improvements in the capacity of our non-government nature conservation sector. To be effective in Australia’s most biodiverse region, we must therefore acquire and nurture high order technical and fundraising skills to support our essential conservation work.
Small local nature community conservation organisations cannot afford to do this on their own, so the Wildlife Conservancy of Tropical Queensland relies on partnership arrangements with a range of NGOs and Government entities, including Bush Heritage Australia and the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management and the Tablelands Regional Council.