The Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation (NBRF) held its Annual General Meeting on Friday 20 November reporting a strong year of progress, despite the year's challenges.
Chair of the NBRF, Rex Halverson said a more challenging start to his term could not have been imagined. "First the fire emergencies and then COVID-19, which impacted every aspect of ours and our project partners' lives and activities," said Mr Halverson.
While these circumstances slowed down some activities, significant progress has been made transitioning in new Board members and processes, finalising several multi-year projects and preparing the Foundation's new funding, community engagement and operations model.
"Even with the year's challenges, we were able to bring to completion a number of projects, including the Noosa Trail Masterplan, the Oyster Reef Restoration Trial and Keep on Keeping It In Kin Kin (Phase 2). Each have led to significant additional state and federal funding to implement expanded programs, delivering an even greater return on our initial investment – and validation of the value in new research and pilot programs for the Noosa Biosphere," he said.
"In addition, we helped launch exciting new programs including the Noosa Environmental Education Hub which is already delivering great outcomes for our local schools. We also began delivering on a new engagement-focused model to develop new initiatives," said Mr Halverson.
Since the Foundation's inception five years ago, the NBRF has sponsored 18 conservation and socio-economic projects valued at over $3.2 million, delivering a 3:1 return on an investment of around $1 million from the Noosa Council environment levy fund.
"In this year's Annual Report, we've demonstrated the significant value our projects and effort have delivered to ensure tangible and long-term outcomes for our community and the environment," said Mr Halverson.
The NBRF is a volunteer board and receives funding from Noosa Shire Council and others to undertake research and projects that assist the preservation of the Noosa Biosphere Reserve, in line with the global sustainability goals of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program (MaB).
Rowan Rafferty whom has been acting in advisory capacity to the board throughout this financial year was officially appointed as a Director of the Board.
"We also launched internal projects to find new sources of funding to supplement Council support, as well as reviewing and enhancing our policies to ensure we exceed community expectations relating to accountability and transparency," said Mr Halverson.
"As part of our commitment to enhancing engagement, we appointed a new Executive Coordinator who will lead fundraising and community engagement activities for the NBRF. We've also collaborated with Tourism Noosa on the "Enter the Biosphere" campaign and hosted our first fundraising event, the Black and Glossy Gala luncheon with event partners, In Noosa magazine and Plastic Free Noosa, which highlight the social and economic value of our environmental assets – and the need to protect them," he said.
"Through our work, we aim to inform best practice management models for all those working hard to maintain a sustainable and healthy Noosa environment for future generations.
"I would like to thank Noosa Council and the community for their continued support of the Noosa Biosphere and the NBRF in our efforts to deliver on the spirit and intent of UNESCO's MaB Program. I also thank my fellow board members who volunteer a significant amount of their time and expertise to the Noosa region."