The Esplanade foreshore in Cairns is again under threat of development. The Cairns birders are asking for assistance. They would like people to write letters (one paragraph would be sufficient) to the Mayor, Cairns City Council, 151 Abbott Street, Cairns North Queensland 4870 and to Premier Rob Borbidge, Level 15, 100 George Street, Brisbane Queensland 4000. The Cairns BOCA, PO Box 2910, Cairns North Queensland 4870 would appreciate a copy.
The Cairns foreshore was originally created by clearing the mangroves (I believe this was about 100 years ago), and it is kept clear by weeding out any regrowth annually. This complicates the situation, but there are extensive areas of mangroves that still remain in the area, and few suitable sites for migratory waders. Development would leave neither. A detailed development plan has yet to be proposed, but the common suggestion is to create a wider area of parkland including a swimming pool, plus a sandy beach.
The Esplanade is now a significant site for migratory waders in Queensland. The waders are the subject of the JAMBA and CAMBA treaties for the protection of migratory birds. The site is also being proposed as a Ramsar site for the protection of waterbirds. It is internationally significant for Whimbrels (>1% of estimated world population), and nationally significant for Common Sandpiper and Pacific Golden Plover.
On a personal level, the Cairns foreshore is one of the best birding sites that I have visited in Australia. It is easily accessible, and you can see 50 species in a short time. My highlights have been Beach Stone-Curlew (a threatened species) and Broad-billed Sandpiper. It has also been the site where rare vagrants to Australia have been sighted such as Laughing and Franklin's Gulls.
There is a small bird interpretive centre. It is probably wishful thinking, but it would be nice to think that the foreshore could be the basis of a major facility to educate people about the importance of birds, and their associated habitats.
So please send a letter to the addresses at the top of this article, asking that the foreshore mudflat is not developed, and supporting the proposal that it be declared a Ramsar site because of its importance to waterbirds. Letters could also be sent to The Editor, Cairns Post, 22-24 Abbott Street, Cairns North Queensland 4870; Hon. Brian Littleproud, Minister for the Environment, 160 Ann Street, Brisbane Queensland 4000; Cairns Chamber of Commerce, 38 Grafton Street, Cairns North Queensland 4870. Thanks for your assistance.
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