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LEASE FOR BOTANICAL GARDENS ON RUSSELL ISLAND LIKELY SOON! A lease for the Botanical Gardens site on Russell Island is likely to be finalised soon. The Bay Islands Conservation group has been patiently waiting for nearly four years for the land to be made available by the Queensland State Government via the Redland City Council. It was two years ago in September 2020 when Redland City Council resolved to enter into a three-year trustee lease with the State Government over three hectares of Kings Road land, Russell Island. Despite claims Redland City Council was ‘progressing’ the arrangement after receiving advice from the State Government, the final processing has been delayed for a number of reasons, not least of which has been the Covid pandemic and the large change-over of staff at council. The site was visited recently by council officers Bill Morley and Anita McKay. They had not previously visited the site, but seemed impressed by the site. They met with officials of the Conservation group and indicated that the matter should be ‘finalised in the coming days’. The signing of the lease and handover will allow for work to finally start on the project. Council is to lease the land from the Department of Education and is providing a three-year licence to occupy with Bay Islands Conservation Inc (BICI), which will develop and manage the botanical gardens. The Friendly Bay islander first raised the idea of a botanical garden on the site in 2018 after introducing a former Director General of the Department of Education to the site when he visited for the Russell Island State School Centenary celebrations. The Bay Islands Conservation Group Inc was invited to take management of the Botanical Gardens concept and the 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.” Early goals after securing the 8.5 acre site, will include perimeter 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, the conservation group president and island resident and architect. The theme of the Botanical Gardens is likely 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 : information@bayislandsconservation.org


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