introduction to reducing impact
How can we reduce our impact?
If we consider ourselves to be the stewards of this stunning landscape it is also necessary to acknowledge that a number of activities we undertake as residents are threatening to the high ecological value placed on the area. In preparing this website, a number of people put their heads together and talked about what they thought would be the best and worst things we could do or have done on our properties. Not surprisingly, they were all different. Our lifestyle needs are as individual as the ecosystems present on our individual properties, each thinking of the specific values and threats present on their properties and weighing that up with lifestyle needs. We can minimise our ecological footprints, and even have a positive impact, but there was no hard and fast rule to it. With the collective experience of living north of the Daintree River we need to transfer that knowledge to a new resident.
This webpage needs to continue the collection of knowledge of many other landholders living here. It is important to identify that in the initial development of this site is just the first step and an adaptive approach to enhance this site will be required.
If your block is elevated, was cleared before you bought it, and has a fast flowing creek, you may have plenty of options in terms of renewable power (hydro or solar), water supply (creek, rain or bore) and toilets (composting, treatment plant or septic). You may find however, that your driveway washes out over the wet season, turning your creek brown and forcing you to upgrade your vehicle, or park on the road and walk in. You may also find the cleared parts of your property are full of weeds, and the creek banks are eroded, pig-rooted and weed infested. The rainforest in the wet season is often described as ‘bejewelled’, but it won’t seem that way to you.
If your block is largely uncleared, you will find the rainforest takes care of itself and your wet season is spent meditating it beauty. You will have to carefully consider your development needs and make small adjustments to your lifestyle to avoid unnecessary land clearing.
No matter, your block, your lifestyle and budget will be very different to a household anywhere else in Australia. If you are new to the tropics, there are also tips to help you with some of the unique challenges of your new environment.
Development decisions are medium to long term and expensive – bad decisions can lead to ongoing erosion problems, an inefficient house and unnecessary expenses and maintenance on your part. Land clearing is the single most threatening process in the region and can be minimised with good design. With good planning and advice you will also be able to reduce erosion and pollution and create a more comfortable home for less money. There are three things here that are significantly different to anywhere else in Australia – climate and environment; lack of town services and; town planning restrictions. In addition to the tips below, we recommend your first step should be to visit other people’s houses and be inquisitive – with the exception of Council’s planning restrictions, your fellow locals are by far your best resource. Driveways, effluent and power generation are a significant part of your home development and maintenance budgets. What is and isn’t permitted on your property however, may be very different to what is permitted on your neighbours’ properties – the Douglas Shire Planning Scheme has an overview of restrictions, but many will depend on a site inspection. Otherwise, telephone the Douglas Shire Council for specific questions.
Key aspects of reducing our impact: