Eleven of South East Queensland’s best and most innovative environmental initiatives were recognised with $19,000 in prizes at the Healthy Land and Water Awards 2017 on Friday September 1.
Sponsored by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, the annual awards are held to recognise the efforts of individuals, community groups, local government and industry to improve and protect the natural assets of South East Queensland.
Stanley River Environment Education Centre claimed the coveted $10,000 Minister’s Grand Prize for its exhilarating Bunya To Bay Eco Adventure, and also won the Sustainable Education Award – presented by Port of Brisbane.
The Bunya to Bay Eco Adventure received high praise from the judges, who commended the eco-tour for providing young people with a rewarding and enriching experience that allowed them to gain a deep understanding of life and the land through an Indigenous perspective.
Sunshine Coast shark expert Tony Isaacson claimed the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award and the People’s Choice Award for his lifelong commitment to shark advocacy and raising awareness of the critical role sharks play in maintaining healthy oceans.
Milton State School Sustainability Committee won the Water Warrior Award – presented by Brisbane City Council for establishing the Milton Sustainability Legacy, an initiative to promote the benefits of living sustainably to a new generation of young people.
Sunshine Coast horticulturist Joel Fostin won the Volunteer of the Year Award – presented by River 94.9FM, for volunteering his time to protect the coastal Pandanus tree, a native species that has been under attack for more than 20 years by the introduced leafhopper bug from far North Queensland.
The Save Steve Irwin Way Forest Group won the Environmental Stewardship Award – presented by Queensland Urban Utilities for its tireless efforts to protect sections of critically endangered habitat and subtropical lowland rainforest in the Mooloolah section of Beerwah State Forest.
Young eco-warriors Lordie Walker and Patrick Brabant were named joint winners of the Junior Environment Champion Award – presented by Seqwater in recognition of their exceptional work as youth ambassadors for the environment and the conservation of wildlife and culture throughout South East Queensland.
Stockland and Shadforths Civil Contractors claimed the Erosion and Sediment Control Award for establishing the Aura Erosion and Sediment Control program, an innovative management approach to stabilising and controlling sediment during construction of the Aura master-planned community project on the Sunshine Coast.
Seqwater won the Sustainable Water Management Award – presented by Unitywater for developing and implementing the Cyanotoxin Recreational Water Quality Management program, a new monitoring approach that increases recreational access to lakes during cyanobacterial blooms.
The University of the Sunshine Coast Marine and Coastal Ecology research team scored the Science Innovation Award in recognition of its ground-breaking comprehensive survey of fish species in all estuaries of South East Queensland.
Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef, The Hon Dr Steven Miles MP, congratulated the finalists and winners of the 2017 Healthy Land and Water Awards.
“These awards acknowledge the valuable work being undertaken by community groups and organisations to improve the health of South East Queensland’s land and waterways. Full credit go to the winners and finalists for their efforts,” Dr Miles said.
“As custodians of Queensland’s land and waterways, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is proud to support the Minister’s Grand Prize – an award given to the most outstanding category winner for their valuable work in protecting, repairing and restoring the natural environment through actions and education.”
Healthy Land and Water Chief Executive Officer Ms Julie McLellan said the awards, now in their 17th year, rewarded the individuals, groups, schools and organisations that work tirelessly to protect and improve South East Queensland’s precious land and waterways.
“There are many projects and initiatives being undertaken throughout the region and any effort to make a positive difference to our ecosystem deserves recognition and encouragement,” she said.
“It is inspiring to witness the breadth of passion and expertise amongst all of our entrants and finalists and I thank them for their commitment to forging a better South East Queensland for us all.”