The Sunshine Coast Council area is 54 per cent native vegetation, has 81,900 hectares of open space and more than 460 recreational parks. Plus, our region boasts Australia’s largest Land for Wildlife program and 40 per cent of homes have solar power, almost double the national average of 21 per cent.
These are just a few reasons why the council believes we should become a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) biosphere reserve.
Biosphere status is internationally recognised and there are 686 biosphere reserves in 122 countries. Only nine of them are located in Australia, with the closest two in Noosa.
Mayor Mark Jamieson says the council will seek a biosphere declaration for “a large part” of the Coast and he believes it has the power to enhance the national and international reputation of the region.
“Biospheres are areas where active conservation sits alongside responsible development and people living sustainably – just like our region,” he says.
“Being recognised as a biosphere would reinforce our healthy, smart, creative objectives for the region, provide it with a particular value proposition and help enable us to preserve our outstanding natural assets for current and future generations. We would also seek to leverage the economic opportunities that came with that international recognition.
“For example, biospheres create niche markets for products, services, facilities and practices – which will provide a significant point of difference for our agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism sectors.”
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford says his organisation supports the proposal.
“In a world that’s increasingly more compressed, with populations continuing to skyrocket, particularly across the northern hemisphere, our natural environment is increasingly becoming a drawcard for tourists,” he says.
“They don’t get to drive over something like the Maroochy River, or … sit somewhere like Mooloolaba Beach, or sit on One Tree Hill and look at something like the Glass House Mountains. When they holiday, they don’t want to replicate where they live, these congested and stressful environments; what they want is right here and it’s becoming rarer on a global scale.
“To be able to offer such an extraordinary collection of natural experiences, physical green space and access to biospheres, in the years to come this is what will make us increasingly more valuable and we will attract a different type of visitor who is appreciative and respectful of what we have. This is only going to be an advantage.”
Mr Latchford says having the status bestowed on the region will also be a vital reminder for residents and business owners to continue to maintain, respect and encourage appropriate and sustainable growth.
“I think the community as a whole has reached a great point of maturity now where we can encourage appropriate growth, develop our industries and create better public transport in a way that is mindful and respectful for the environment, and we are lucky to be in a position where we can have our cake and eat it too.
“The biosphere is the epitome of what we all stand for.”
Mayor Jamieson says the process to nominate for biosphere status will be lengthy, starting with a three-month community consultation, which began on March 29.
Biosphere reserves have three interrelated zones:
• The core area – a strictly protected ecosystem that contributes to the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems, species and genetic variation.
• The buffer zone – surrounds or adjoins the core areas and is used for activities compatible with sound ecological practices that can reinforce scientific research, monitoring, training and education.
• The transition area – is the part of the reserve where the greatest activity is allowed, fostering economic and human development that is socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable.
To comment on the proposed biosphere nomination, visit haveyoursay.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au.