The Low Isles preservation Society (LIPS) is a conservation group dedicated to the protection and preservation of the Low Isles, and the marine, coastal and rainforest environments of far north Queensland.
In 1992, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority announced it was removing its lighthouse keepers from the Low Isles and automating the lighthouse. The Marine Parks, to whom the title would be transferred, was unsure of the future of Low Isles. At a small public meeting in September 1992 they expressed their concerns that they were under funded and could not afford to protect Low isles on their own. Furthermore, they did not know how to entice an organisation into protecting Low Isles with no obvious profit incentive.
A working group of local community members organised a public meeting to rally the community to save Low Isles from what would
happen once the lighthouse keepers were removed. They felt that the community had a deep love for the island and it could
work together with marine parks to protect it.
WHAT WE DO
A large community forum was organised to seek views of the different user groups. Over 200 residents (population of Port Douglas being 3660) attended the meeting and voted to form an incorporated organisation designed to:
Protect Low Isles
Promote Low Isles
A steering committee was elected which spent hundred of volunteer hours working to create a draft proposal for the protection of Low isles through community participation and involvement in maintenance.
FUNDING AND SUPPORT
LIPS was fortunate that the proposal was well received by all stakeholders: Graham Kelleher at GBRMPA, Greg Wellard QDE, Paul Greenfield at the University of Queensland, Douglas Shire Council, Mike Berwick Mayor DSC, Steve Brechauer State Member for Cook, Peter Dodd Federal Member of Leichardt. This allowed Lips to successfully attract a Federal grant of 1.5 million.
This grant expanded the horizon of LIPS. Through discussions with Marine Parks, the community became not only involved in co management of Low Isles, but also in developing programs designed to research, interpret and protect coral reefs at a community level.
In order to achieve its aims, LIPS encouraged and supported the employment of marine rangers and staff by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services (QPWS). One ranger was based at Low Isles; a ranger in charge and an indigenous ranger were based in Port Douglas. There was also an administrative position that provided support and public contact for both LIPS and QPWS. The Federal Grant also allowed LIPS to establish various volunteer programs.
At present, LIPS has no office in Port Douglas, and is run by a voluntary executive committee. There is a full time caretaker on the island, and volunteers relieve the caretaker and help to look after the island on a regular basis. An important duty carried out by both the caretaker and the volunteers is to report the weather to the Weather Bureau three times a day. Current projects include turtle research and looking into the feasibility of turning the base of the lighthouse into a museum.