TRACY Finnegan is all about practicing what she preaches on her ruggedly beautiful grazing property Jingeri, in the picturesque Kerry Valley south of Beaudesert.
Mrs Finnegan, who studied an applied science degree in integrated resource management at the University of Queensland and is a member of AgForce’s vegetation management committee, said her overriding objective was to balance conservation with the economic realities of running a commercial cattle property.
“I’m not a green but I am unapologetically pro-environment,” Mrs Finnegan said. “This is a place where I can implement what I believe in and I think we are making good progress.”
In fact, Jingeri boasts the only privately owned nature refuges in Queensland. The three refuges were painstakingly negotiated with the Queensland Government and cover some 168 hectares.
“I wouldn’t say it was an easy process, but it shows a balance between conservation and productivity can be achieved if there is willingness and determination,” Mrs Finnegan said.
Under the agreement the nature refuges have been fenced out, replanted with native species as well as having weeds, including lantana, removed.
After five years of conservation management, the areas will be again be able to be grazed. The government gains by selling the stored carbon offsets to industry.
Mrs Finnegan said one of the challenges was having government recognise what was actually on the ground compared to the official mapping.
“By the end of that process we had five areas on Jingeri reclassified, including two critically endangered areas that had been missed,” she said.
“What needs to be understood is that as spectacular as this valley is, the landscape has been disturbed and we’re dealing with long existing legacy issues. Trees, including spotted gum are out of balance, partly because fire has been removed from the landscape.
“We would love to do more but we need to value the environment in monetary terms. There is no way it can fund itself. The environment needs to be treated as a commodity if we are to be able to pay for the work that needs to be done.”
Mrs Finnegan said she developed a terrific working relationship with a number of conservation groups, in particular BirdLife Australia. She was less complementary of extreme green groups including the WWF and the Wilderness Society. The primary difference was practicality as opposed to politics.