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Island residents are a step closer to having their own Botanical Gardens after Redland City Council resolved to enter into a three-year trustee lease with the State Government over about three hectares of Kings Road land, Russell Island.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said Council was progressing the arrangement after receiving advice from the State Government that there were no plans for a high school on the site, which is owned by the Department of Education.

“In December 2019, I wrote to the Education Minister on behalf of the community to ask if the State Government had any plans to use the site for a school,” Cr Williams said.

“The Minister confirmed they had no plans for a school on the site.

“So Council will now lease the land from the Department of Education and sign a three year licence to occupy with Bay Islands Conservation Inc (BICI), which will manage the botanic gardens.

“BICI first raised the idea of a botanical garden on the site in 2018 and has since worked hard to progress the plan, including engaging with the community to ensure it would deliver significant benefit.

“The BICI vision is to create a central community hub alongside the Bay Island Sport and Resilience Hub.”

Peter Nelson, president of Bay Islands Conservation Inc, welcomed council’s decision, stating the gardens would eventually become a focal point of the islands.

He acknowledged Gerard Thompson of the Friendly Bay Islander for his efforts in developing the concept and driving the project in association with BICI.

Cr Mark Edwards stated he was ‘excited by the project’ and the role it could play in shaping the future of the Bay Islands.

“In association with another BICI project, the island walking trails, there will be many reasons for visitors to soon come and enjoy our islands.”

A working committee is being put together by Peter Nelson.

Early goals will be securing the 8.5 acre site with fencing; identifying existing flora on the site; identifying island endangered flora and encompassing it in the gardens; having the site assessed and shaped to exciting designs being provided by Peter Nelson, an island resident and a former architect.

The theme of the Botanical Gardens is to be Plants of the Islands of Australia.

To this end, horticultural advice will be obtained and approaches made to islands around Australia for appropriate plants and cuttings.

Other Botanical Gardens around Australia will be approached for assistance and advice.

Eventually machinery and storage structures will be required with temporary facilities to be provided in the early stages.

Applications will be made for grants at Federal, State and Local Government levels.

The corporate sector will also be approached.

When fully developed, it is hoped the Botanical Gardens will encompass a small lake and the possibility of a music bowl for island entertainment.

Volunteers are also required to become part of the community effort to establish the gardens.

If you would like to help out register your name by contacting Robert Hurren on 0428 862 543 or go to the BICI email address :

• The entrance to the beautiful Botanical Gardens area.

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