‘The Great Sandy Biosphere’ was officially declared as the worlds 15th Biosphere reserve in May 2009 by the United Nations Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The objective of the Great Sandy Biosphere reserve is to give world recognition to our outstanding natural beauty and high levels of biodiversity in the region as well and encouraging conservation and sustainable development.
When the Burnett Mary Regional Group learned that the nomination had been successful and the region would be declared as a Biosphere, the former Chair of the Group, Mr Russell Stewart said “We now have to keep our promises and make sure the Great Sandy Biosphere becomes a model for sustainability.”
The Burnett Mary Regional Group (BMRG) in conjunction with the University of Queensland is running a series of Biosphere workshops in our region over the next few months based upon addressing “How can we use this status to create a more sustainable future- to promote harmony between people and nature and maintain the livability of the biosphere?”
These workshops were advertised as being supported by ‘BMRG’, ‘University of QLD’ and ‘Bundaberg Sugar’, however it was announced at the workshop in Maryborough on Tuesday 26-10-10 that they workshops were financed by donations from Bundaberg Sugar and The Northern Energy Corporation, the Mining Development Firm responsible for the proposed Colton Coal mine north of Maryborough.
Northern Energy Corporation (NEC) proposes to extract 500,000 tonnes of coking coal per annum from the site located a mere 2.5km from the town of Aldershot and plans to discharge contaminated water into the Mary River which flows directly into the Great Sandy RAMSAR Wetlands in the heart of the Great Sandy Biosphere.
When contacted, the BMRG confirmed that NEC had donated $5000 towards the costs of facilitating the workshops and that BMRG had in fact approached NEC and asked for a donation. Bundaberg Sugar and Hyne Timber have also donated $5,000 each towards the project.
WBBCC Coordinator Miss Emma-Kate Currie was outraged to learn that the workshops are being funded by companies that undertake activities that are damaging to the environment and was particularly concerned that BMRG had approached NEC for donations yet failed to disclose this information on the workshop fliers.
“We are outraged that BMRG has approached a corporation like NEC to fund these biosphere workshops as the proposed Colton Coal Mine has the potential to be devastating to our regions environment and flies in the face of the objectives of the Great Sandy Biosphere! It is simply un-ethical for BMRG to ask for and except donations from this company for the purpose of promoting the Great Sandy Biosphere and we will be ensuring that UNESCO is made aware of this fact. The BMRG has achieved great outcomes for environmental restoration and protection in this region via encouraging the agricultural industry to implement better management practices but we are disgusted by their decision to take money from a company who’s sole objective is to dig up our resources and turn them into pennies in the pockets of offshore investors, at the cost of our regions environment.”