the Breeze

EDITORIAL September

BOTANICAL GARDENS WILL PROVIDE HUGE BOOST TO ISLANDS’ POSITIVE TRAJECTORY AND CHANGING DEMOGRAPHIC

Despite the carnage that has been happening around us, the Bay Islands appear to be in an insulated bubble of possible positivity.

Recent land sales and home rentals have been at record levels, boosted by positive island publicity and the prospect of the Federal Government’s Homebuilder grant.

Throw in what’s happening at Weinam Creek thanks to Redland City Council and the combined State Governmnent-Redland City Council millions to replace island jetties on the Southern Bay Islands, and you could not be blamed for feeling a bit positive.

Island business and trades are booming with houses springing up all over the place and the stay-at-home Coronavirus status only made islanders spend more money locally.

Now Redland City Council has endorsed a proposal that has been in the pipeline for some time that will see Botanical Gardens established on Russell Island.

The Friendly Bay Islander is proud to have been the instigator of the concept and has been working closely with the Bay Islands Conservation group to make it a reality.

The area in question is adjacent to the Russell Island sports fields and resilience centre in one of the most beautiful parts of the island. It already has the look of a Botanical Gardens about it.

The area is owned by the Department of Education and a chance meeting with the Director General when he visited the islands for the 100th anniversary of the Russell Island State School a couple of years ago, saw the outcome that has now been announced.

The land is being leased only from the Department with a three year tenancy for the Bay Islands Conservation Inc to get it up and happening.

It is fortunate that the president of BICI, Peter Nelson, just happens to be an architect and town planner of some note and his skills in presenting a format for the way ahead, have been invaluable.

Funding will be required to make it all happen but, in the meantime, volunteers and sponsor contributions from island businesses are helping to get the ball rolling.

In this regard, the Friendly Bay Islander would like to recognise John Bonnet of JSBS Excavations and buildings for their early efforts.

If the Gardens can become a reality, the possibilities are endless for the project and the islands.

The Botanical Gardens have the potential to become a genuine tourist attraction that will bring a new demographic to our islands and establish our position as an ecological and sustainable identity.

Combined with walking trails that are soon to be established on the islands and perhaps, later, an observatory and park then we will see a tourism sector develop around the concept with all of our islands to benefit in the long term, linking in with these projects.

The Friendly Bay Islander will continue to support and help drive the project with the BICI and Redland City Council.

The theme of the Botanical Gardens will be Plants of the Islands of Australia.

It will play an important role in the propagation of both rare and endangered Bay Island plants, but also other important island endangered species.

It is to be hoped not only will we get an area of our islands to be enjoyed by islanders and visitors alike, but also an ecological asset that will be a beacon to the rest of Australia.

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