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.
VOLUNTEERS TRAINING / VOLUNTEER CARETAKER
LIPS initiated a volunteer caretaker position to assist in the day-to-day management of Low Isles. When the Low Isles caretaker is off duty, volunteers assist with tasks such as weather reporting, public contact, general maintenance and general cleaning.
This pilot program was initiated to involve the community volunteers in the management of marine parks. The formal program involved attending training courses, field-based projects and Low Isles relief, The first successful volunteer caretakers graduated in 1996. Current volunteer caretakers receive more on the job training. They relieve the permanent Low Isles caretaker for approximately 100 days per year, as well as assist in other LIPS projects.
PIED PIGEON COUNTS
During the months Between September to March a large population of pied imperial pigeons live and breed on Woody Island, the mangrove covered shingle cay next to Low Island. Since 1994 Lips has assisted the QPWS with the volunteer counting programs. Once a month, during this season, volunteers carry out a count to monitor the number of pigeons on the island.
CLEAN UP AUSTRALIA DAY AND CLEAN BEACH CHALLENGE
LIPS first participated in Clean up Australia Day in 1993. Four Mile beach in Port Douglas and Low Isles have both benefited from LIPS involvement in the clean ups. In 1999 several volunteers dived in the lagoon at Low Isles and collected rubbish including fishing line. LIPS is the regional winner of the 1999-2000 Clean Beach Challenge for the Low Isles beach. The Litter Miser award goes to a beach or community that shows outstanding accomplishments towards anti-litter initiatives.
Judges were impressed by the efforts of volunteers as well as local tour operators. Regular clean ups of Woody Island in association with the Tangaroa Blue Marine Debris Program have also been held.
As a condition of operation, LIPS was required by GBRMPA to participate in the design of an interpretive training program of world class standard. The first incarnation was developed with Andy Dunstand and Alice Crabtree of Reef Bioresearch and was called the B-Reef course. Local marine biologist Emma Hutchinson and Geoff Weir, redeveloped the course and ran it as the Reef Naturalist Course. Both the B-Reef and the Reef Naturalist Courses were very popular and well received by the Port Douglas Community. The course has been substantially redeveloped, printed and accredited by GBRMPA and is now being taught along the GBR as the GBRMP Tourism Staff Certificate.
LIPS have recently combined revised versions of these programs to the Cairns Technical College to be implemented as one of their courses throughout Queensland.