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Feb 10, 2020

What is a Nature Refuge - and how do we get there?

Lot 46 Today - Silvia Di Domenicantonio
Lot 46 Today - Silvia Di Domenicantonio

What is a Nature Refuge? 

We're glad you asked! As part of our covenant with our supporters, we are required to Protect Rainforests Forever, it wouldn't do to have properties in hand that weren't protected by a state level NO DEVELOPMENT EVER agreement, right? Right. The system we use is the Queensland State Government's DES Nature Refuge Certification Program.

And a Nature Refuge, since you asked, is "...a voluntary agreement between a landholder and the Queensland Government. A nature refuge agreement acknowledges a commitment to protect land with significant conservation value, while allowing compatible and sustainable land uses to continue. Landholders with a nature refuge continue to own and manage their land for enjoyment and/or to generate an income. Each nature refuge is negotiated directly with the landholder through a nature refuge agreement."

Further, A nature refuge agreement is:

  • negotiated between the department and the landholder, and provides a framework for sustainably managing a nature refuge and protecting its significant values
  • tailored to suit the landholder’s management needs
  • able to be negotiated with owners of freehold land, leaseholders of State land, government corporations that are separate legal entities from the Queensland Government, local governments, private companies and nature conservancies
  • able to be negotiated over the whole or a portion of the property, depending on the conservation values and the landholder’s wishes
  • perpetual, registrable on title and binds successive owners or lessees of the land. A nature refuge is the best way landholders can ensure the good land management practices and conservation works they have initiated will be continued when future generations or new owners take over. So, if a property changes hands, responsibility for the nature refuge rests with the new owners or lessees.

That last piece there, that's the best part. A nature refuge agreement is PERPETUAL. 

That means it exists forever onward.


That means that it holds successive owners - should there ever be any other owners - to make that Nature Refuge safe forevermore.


The process is pretty straightforward but it tends to take a LONG TIME. The way it works: 

  1. The department primarily works with landholders who have been targeted through its priority programs. An area is generally targeted for a nature refuge based on an assessment by a nature refuge officer that will consider the condition of the land, current land uses and management practices, and proposed future uses. The nature refuge officer will also determine whether a property is consistent with current conservation priorities of the Nature Refuges Program.
  2. If suitable, the nature refuge officer will explain the process of developing a nature refuge agreement and declaring a nature refuge and will discuss any concerns the landholder may have. If the landholder and the department wish to proceed, a draft nature refuge agreement is developed in consultation with the landholder.
  3. Each nature refuge agreement is negotiated directly with the landholder and tailored to suit the management needs of the property, the needs of the landholder and the outcomes that the Queensland Government considers important. Once both parties are satisfied with the contents of the agreement, the landholder and Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef or their delegate sign the agreement.

Rainforest Rescue currently holds 22 Nature Refuges - and we've put two properties back into the National Parks. We have 5 properties in the process to become Nature Refuges now. 

Sadly, they are in limbo at the moment because they aren't LARGE blocks - though some of them do connect and some of them do extend Wildlife Corridors.


Well, one thing we can do is work with the Australian Land Conservation Alliance. They work to advocate on behalf of conservation organisations to help make conservation a priority Australia-wide.

We can also sign on to requests from Australian conservation groups in partnership to raise awareness in government for the benefit of conservation, something that benefits everyone. Recently we were asked to sign on to a letter in support of increased conservation funding from the Queensland government, alongside such terrific organisations as the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Bush Heritage, ALCA, Pew Charitable Trust, South Endeavour Trust, YINTJINGGA Aboriginal Corporation, EWAMIAN Aboriginal Corporation, Landcare Australia, Queensland Conservation, Queensland Farmers Association, NRM Regions Queensland, AgForce, MDH and Queensland Trust for Nature. Alliances of conservation and Landcare groups increases the awareness for conservation and managed land solutions that benefit all Australians, and ultimately, all life.

For Lot 46 we are keen to proceed with the Nature Refuge process. 

But if your other properties are in limbo at the moment, why would you add Lot 46 to the bottleneck?

Glad you asked. Lot 46 is significantly large enough at almost 28 Ha of restored rainforest that the Queensland DES will recognise it and move it through. 

We've been told. And so we believe. 

Lot 46 has gained significant media attention as a restoration success story.

To do that, we need your partnership and your financial support. Every time you put a property into the Refuge Assessment process, it's going to cost a few thousand dollars at least, plus the back and forth that comes with working with government processes. At the end - hooray! A nature Refuge is born and will be protected in perpetuity. Thanks to you!

We could not do this without you. I hope you really understand that you are making a real difference when you support this important work And it's our honour to do this with you.

Protect Rainforests Forever - with Rainforest Rescue!

Thanks for your interest and your support. 

If you’d like to learn more about the Nature Refuge process through the Queensland Government's DES, you can find out more, here.

Lot 46 1982
Lot 46 1982
Lot 46 2016
Lot 46 2016
From above and behind, Lot 46
From above and behind, Lot 46
Lot 46 - compare and celebrate what Nature can do!
Lot 46 - compare and celebrate what Nature can do!
Feb 3, 2020

Cassowaries and Offspring spotted again!

A Cassowary Chick
A Cassowary Chick

Rainforest Rescue’s Daintree Manager and volunteers continue to see southern cassowaries and their chicks north of the Daintree River, near Rainforest Rescue already protected land. Frequency of sightings reassures the whole team that the cassowary population numbers are healthy and growing, especially seeing cassowary offspring. Your support in helping us rescue, and restore, the habitat of these incredibly important endangered cassowaries is really paying off – for the rainforest, and the Earth.

Further great news for the Daintree’s cassowaries is that we are almost at our goal to buy back and protect forever our latest appeal property - Lot 27 Cape Tribulation Rd!

Amongst other precious, vulnerable, rare and endangered flora and fauna – the Southern Cassowary too calls this rainforest property home. This land was at the highest threat - in the midst of our appeal another buyer appeared and risked starting a bidding war which would be disastrous for the Daintree and conservation efforts. We managed to broker a deal with the owner to take our bid at asking – even though the rival was willing to go significantly higher. Fortunately, the owner chose to protect this land and go with Rainforest Rescue, even though it meant less money in their pocket. This means that all the rainforest animals that find themselves on Lot 27 will soon be safe and protected forever.

Cassowary droppings on Lot 27 show this is a regular path on the Cassowary’s foraging journeys through this habitat. Known as the ‘rainforest gardener’, the cassowary is able to swallow seeds that are too large (and toxic) for other animals – and then when they ‘poop’ the seeds out – they are then safe and in a small enough size for the other animals to eat!

The cassowary ‘poop’ also grows trees! It is full of lots of seeds so this too helps to strongly build a rainforest.

Thank YOU for helping us support the Southern Cassowaries and their offspring, to grow up in the safest habitat possible in the Daintree rainforest. They are safer because of YOU!

Cassowary 'poop'
Cassowary 'poop'
Beautiful Lot 27 - about to be rescued!
Beautiful Lot 27 - about to be rescued!
Feb 3, 2020

Cape Kimberley Lot 27 - Rescued from development!

Daintree from Forest Creek Martin Stringer Photog
Daintree from Forest Creek Martin Stringer Photog

Next Rescue – Lot 27 Cape Tribulation Rd

Rare and endangered species like the Southern Cassowary and the Spectacled Flying-fox are found here, amidst ancient and primitive flowering plants. 

Conservation work in the Daintree supports this ancient forest ecosystem that has been evolving longer than any other in the world – by tens of millions of years – and is Australia’s largest and most biodiverse. 

With the help of Rainforest Rescuers – people like you – we’ve rescued 2 priceless rainforest properties in the last year, significantly protecting pristine habitat for Nature and achieving a strong win for biodiversity. In addition to Lot 15 Thornton Peak Drive, Lot 30 Cape Tribulation Rd was successfully rescued because of people like you who recognise the power and importance of conservation.

We are successful together.

Wildlife Corridors Protect and Connect 

Lot 27 Cape Tribulation Rd, like Lot 30, borders the National Park and is adjacent to the Cape Kimberley Wildlife Corridor – we know this area well. Because of the connectivity to the National Park and World Heritage Area, and with a lack of protection on several of the properties still outside of the refuge, this property is high priority for rescue and protection. We have it on good authority that Lot 27 will likely qualify for inclusion into this protected corridor and is a real win for Nature, as well as for everyone who stands for conservation.

This dense, intact rainforest conjures up images of an ancient world, before subdivisions and development became a threat to Nature and our common future. Thick leaf litter, rich and humid air carrying the scent of flowers and mulch, the sounds of Wompoo pigeons calling to their mates and parrots screeching captivate the senses. Massive trees, twisting vines, a diversity of fungus, insects and beautiful butterflies – massive, vivid blue Ulysses butterflies – and more, inspire us to protect this haven for Nature. Cassowary droppings show this is a regular path on their foraging journeys through this habitat shared with other endangered and threatened species, like the Musky Rat-Kangaroo and the Spectacled Fruit Bat. Its location, dynamic structure and biodiversity make it an ideal candidate for nature refuge status and Wildlife Corridor inclusion. It scores very high on our ecological assessment and needs your help to protect it.

Snatched from the Jaws!

This property was at extreme risk – and in the midst of our appeal another buyer appeared and risked starting a bidding war which would be disastrous for the Daintree and conservation efforts. We managed to broker a deal with the owner to take our bid at asking – even though the rival was willing to go significantly higher. Fortunately, the owner chose to protect this land and go with Rainforest Rescue, even though it meant less money in their pocket. It's wonderful to encounter people who value Nature and this unique, precious habitat more than money.


But to do that we had to dip into our reserve so as not to miss the opportunity. Your support in helping us cover the cost of the rescue will help insure that Rainforest Rescue continues in strength and that we can capture the next property and the next, striving to protect as much of the intact Daintree as possible. 

The real heroes behind these stories of successful conservation outcomes are our supporters – you and others like you who you know that this strategy works. Your contributions directly rescue and protect Nature in Australia’s largest, most biodiverse rainforest.

Your generous gift makes a real and important difference that benefits threatened habitat, water catchment and wildlife.

This property is our next step on this journey of conservation and protection. We will keep rescuing rainforest, block by block, and protect it forever, but only with your help.

Rainforest Rescue is committed to Protecting Rainforests Forever! 

Together we're making it happen. 

Thank you!

Papuan Frogmouth - Allen Sheather
Papuan Frogmouth - Allen Sheather
Lemon-Tipped Hunter - Allen Sheather
Lemon-Tipped Hunter - Allen Sheather
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