ARCS Activities and Achievements
The Australian Rainforest Conservation Society Inc was established in 1982. We were deeply distressed by the awful prospect of logging in the last pristine stands of tropical rainforest left in North Queensland. Ever since, we have achieved some of the most significant conservation outcomes in Queensland's history — all this primarily through volunteer efforts, sound science, but above all, a passionate love of Nature and undying commitment to give Nature what it needs to survive and thrive.
We are living proof that even a small group of people can achieve great things. Our many international and national awards attest to this.
In 2005 ARCS instituted a major rainforest restoration project at Springbrook known as Springbrook Rescue. Why? As authors of the successful Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage nomination, we were acutely aware of the fragility and vulnerability of the very small, fragmented, really badly configured National Park that existed then. With the highest rainfall on mainland Australia outside the Wet Tropics World Heritage, the upland refugia come closest to preserving, least changed, ancient palaeoclimates that existed when the ancestral lineages of plants and animals responsible for its Outstanding Universal Value first evolved. This is where those plants and animals, if properly cared for, have their greatest chance of surviving future climate change.
The outstanding World Heritage values had no chance of surviving in the long term unless the park was greatly expanded, the lost critical habitats restored and the vital landscape linkages rebuilt. We persuaded the Beattie Government to rise to the challenge. They spent $40 million buying land to expand the park and World Heritage Area — a step unprecedented in Queensland's history. We committed to bringing the community with us to help with urgent recovery work. Over 600 volunteers have donated their time.
The most urgent focus initially was restoring around 80 hectares of cleared or degraded land within the newly established national parks. It is a 20-year project formally licenced under Queensland's Nature Conservation Act 1991. The project is also recognised by the IUCN as an international Case Study for ecological restoration on protected areas. This was an important milestone for us as this IUCN publication acts as the official guide to help signatory countries of the Convention on Biological Diversity meet their obligatory Aichi Targets.
Science informs almost everything we do. With the help of international experts we have discovered new species and species never previously found in Queensland. We make heavy use of audio recorders (18 Song Meters) and camera traps (6 so far) set up around the plateau to discover/monitor the presence of threatened wildlife such as the Rufous Scrub-bird, Spotted-tailed Quoll and Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby. Our scientific reports over the years have received the highest praise from international experts.
Since 2009 we have had to dig deep to acquire lands indispensable for protecting threatened species habitat and meeting the integrity criteria set down in the Operational Guidelines of the World Heritage Convention. Failure of this mission risks losing the World Heritage status of Springbrook National Park and, worse, slow extinction of its incredibly significant ancient wildlife.
It is a sad indictment of our human species that an evolutionary history of hundreds of millions of years could be in the hands of one species that arrived only 200,000 years ago! We are passionately driven to harness the good that people can do.
We continue to work locally and internationally through key networks to save the critically depleted primary forests that harbour most of the terrestrial biodiversity on Earth.
Some of our previous achievements
- led the successful national campaign to protect the tropical rainforests of North Queensland
- prepared the successful World Heritage nomination for the Wet Tropics of Queensland
- successfully lobbied the Queensland Government to stop all rainforest logging on public land
- led the campaign to stop logging on Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world
- prepared the successful World Heritage nomination for Fraser Island
- headed negotiations that led to the landmark South East Queensland Forests Agreement that immediately set aside 400,000 hectares for national park and established the planned phase out of native forest logging by 2024