Passengers visiting the Great Barrier Reef with Passions of Paradise will play a role in protecting the dual World Heritage areas of Tropical North Queensland.
Passions of Paradise Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Russell Hosp said the Cairns-based reef operator had long been involved with the protection of the Great Barrier Reef and now would be contributing to the health of the Wet Tropics rainforest.
“As part of our role as a Climate Action Leader with Ecotourism Australia, Passions is making regular monthly donations to the Australian Rainforest Foundation which will total $6000 by the end of the year,” he said.
“This amount will purchase 1200 trees and offset about 300 tonnes of carbon dioxide, enough to ensure Passions of Paradise is carbon neutral for 2014 and 2015.”
Australian Rainforest Foundation Executive Director Roger Phillips said the trees would be planted in a cassowary corridor at El Arish, 125km south of Cairns, to assist the endangered birds move safely through their rainforest habitat in the Mission Beach area.
“Clearing of the rainforest combined with deaths caused by cars and dogs has reduced cassowary numbers to a level that threatens the species with extinction,” he said.
“As part of our strategic acquisitions of identified cassowary corridors to link privately owned land with existing protecting areas, the Australian Rainforest Foundation has purchased a 60ha block of land between Tam O’Shanter National Park and Maria Creek National Park.
“This block is surrounded by sugar and banana farms and has just 6ha cleared which is infested with weeds, so we bought it to protect its existing rainforest and revegetate the cleared area.
“A team of trainees from the Tully and Innisfail region undertaking a Certificate III in Horticulture has volunteered to practise the skills they are learning with their registered training organisation and help us with the project.
“They are in the process of spraying weeds which will then be burnt so we can determine the condition of the soil and then plough it ready for planting trees before the end of May if the weather permits.
“The property may need up to 20,000 trees and these have been sourced from seed stock collected locally and grown at a professional nursery on the Atherton Tablelands.
“This type of rainforest rehabilitation is similar to what we have done in the Daintree where we planted our 80,000th tree last year.
“The El Arish project is a smaller one, but it gives us a social outcome as well as an environmental outcome.”