NATURAL WONDER: Fraser Island's Rainforests are now part of the Queen;s Commonwealth Canopy Initiative.
NATURAL WONDER: Fraser Island's Rainforests are now part of the Queen;s Commonwealth Canopy Initiative. Contributed

Hopes of royal wake-up for Fraser Island conservation

FRASER Island's leading defender hopes Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan's pending visit will "wake the Federal Government" up to their environmental responsibilities to protect the landmark.

Conservationist Dr John Sinclair AO, who has devoted more than 45 years to defending Fraser Island, said it was important there was a focus on the natural rainforests growing there, claiming they are its "heart and soul".

Dr Sinclair told the Chronicle said it was time the Federal Government was made more aware of its responsibilities.

Over the last decade, the amount of money given by the Commonwealth for the protection of Fraser Island has remained at about $170,000, which is being eroded away year by year," Dr Sinclair said.

"It's very poor in comparison to the protection of heritage sites all over the world, which receive millions of dollars."

In February, Fraser Island was added to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy Initiative by Prince Charles during his visit to Bundaberg.

This is why the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will visit the site during their royal tour which is built around the Invictus Games in Sydney.

The pair is expected to participate in engagements focussing on the environment, local history and sustainable tourism during their visit on October 22.

Dr Sinclair said the island's forests were facing two ominous threats in the near future, climate change and myrtle rust, a disease caused by an exotic fungus.

"Climate change is slower and more insidious, but myrtle rust affects most of the plants on the island now," he said.

"It affects all plants in the Myrtaceae plant family, which comprise of the largest group of family trees on Fraser Island.

"I'd suggest the Commonwealth make a bigger contribution to try and preserve this section of the Queen's canopy."

The island visit is built around the schedule of the Invictus Games, an international sporting event for injured and ill veterans founded by Prince Harry which will be held in Sydney.



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