On the northern end of the Sunshine Coast, nestled amongst a picturesque blend of dense eucalypt woodland, lush rainforest and rugged foreshores that overlook the Pacific Ocean, lies one of the most ecologically significant regions in the country – yet most people think it is just a holiday town.
Long revered as one of Australia’s most iconic tourist destinations, Noosa also has a nobler, yet far less well-known, claim to fame.
In 2007 the region was designated Queensland’s first biosphere reserve and is now one of 564 such sites across 109 countries worldwide, including another 13 in Australia, recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as exemplars of responsible and sustainable development.
The Noosa biosphere reserve covers approximately 150,000 hectares of terrestrial, freshwater and tidal areas and includes four national parks, nine conservation reserves, four forest reserves and eight nature refuges. Home to more than 300 bird and 1300 plant species, many of which are protected by Commonwealth and State legislation, the biosphere reserve also hosts an abundance of frogs, reptiles, mammals and fresh and saltwater fish.
Yet Noosa also has a bustling economy and business sector, productive agricultural land, a thriving tourism industry and is supported by the infrastructure a modern region requires. It is a picture of what can be achieved by a community with a strong sustainability ethic and a genuine commitment to creating harmony between the natural world and human activity.
Noosa Biosphere Ltd is an organisation that was created in partnership between the local community and the Sunshine Coast Council to further the aims and objectives of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere program, namely: Sustainable Development; Conservation; Communities; Education and Research.
The biosphere projects reach far and wide, including all the way to University of Georgia USA, where over 300 students pay to travel to the region to undertake real-life sustainability education.
With both education and research being two of the core foundations of a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve, it is no wonder that the Noosa Biosphere team of volunteers consider their region to be a ‘living laboratory’.
For more information about Noosa Biosphere Ltd go to www.noosabiosphere.org.au