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Who speaks for Townsville’s birds, animals, and ecosystems?


North Queensland Conservation Council takes the big environmental issues of our region to the doors of Australia’s most influential decision-makers.

In a backyard on Boundary Street, a gathering of Townsville and the Dry Tropics’ most passionate locals are talking land, water, and wood-fired pizza. Members of the North Queensland Conservation Council (NQCC) are together for a meeting and evening light falls on doctors and writers, students and farmers. Some in the yard are new members, attracted to campaigning for local action on climate change. Others have worn footpaths in and out of the group since its grassroots inception in the early 70s.

“Top-down change for the environment can be very powerful,” says Crystal Falknau, Coordinator of the non-profit peak organisation. “An alteration in policy or legislation can mean widespread change practically overnight.

“But for politicians to change legislation, they must know that their voters support the change. At its simplest, this is what advocacy is: amplifying the voice of community members to push for better policy.”

Townsville’s voice for nature

Crystal, her black campaign shirts, and the messages she promotes on behalf of NQCC, are seemingly everywhere that environment is on the agenda. A martial arts instructor in her spare time, she speaks across Townsville and North Queensland with a simple, deliberate stance.

“We’re entering a period of unprecedented change and development in our beautiful region,” she says. “The protection of our natural environment is becoming increasingly challenging. To be an effective voice for our environment, our organisation needs a strong supporter base, powerful alliances, and the trust of our community — this is the work we’ve been doing.”

Fuelled by volunteer effort, donations, and grant funding, the NQCC team run campaigns and petitions, write letters and submissions, and discuss North Queensland issues with decision-makers at all levels of government, including Councillors, MPs, and Ministers.

Campaigns include pushing for sustainable long-term water management in the Burdekin Basin, advocating for nature-based solutions for climate change, promoting a vision for Queensland’s renewable energy transition, and driving for more First Nations perspectives in decisions that affect environments of the North.

NQCC is represented on the Townsville Local Marine Advisory Committee, Townsville Port Maintenance Dredging Technical Advisory and Community Consultative Committee, the Townsville Littering and Illegal Dumping Committee, and our own Dry Tropics Partnership for Healthy Waters.

To keep a busy engine powering, NQCC fundraising is ongoing, and where appropriate, grants are sought to support member groups running local on-ground activities such as Phil’s Bush Cleanup, removing illegally dumped cars and tyres from Port Access Nature Reserve.

Coming soon: Creative moves against coral bleaching

From December 4 to 12, NQCC is joining Move Beyond Coal’s nation-wide Week of Action by hosting a series of public displays pushing the Australian Government to act on climate change.

Townsville residents are encouraged to participate in demonstrations, with special note of a fun stunt planned for The Strand on December 10 to draw attention to coral bleaching.

“Heatwaves are getting worse, particularly here in North Queensland,” Crystal says. “And our Great Barrier Reef, and the corals of our Reef, only have so much resilience. Prolonged heat events could mean the death of many of our corals, and we want our leaders to know that Townsville cares; to see that communities of our region want to give our Reef a fighting chance.

“When we organise public events about climate change, people are just so grateful for the chance to do something and to get involved,” she says. “There’s an energy and power to simply giving people an opportunity to speak up.”

How to get involved

– Follow NQCC on Facebook or LinkedIn
– Subscribe to the NQCC mailing list and receive Paperbark, the leading environmental newsletter in our region 
– Pop in to the regular NQCC Green Drinks social events
Join NQCC as a member or volunteer.