New Southern Gulf NRM CEO eyes off big to-do list

Geoff Penton takes over as Southern Gulf NRM CEO

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Geoff Penton has over 30 years of experience in natural resource management and Landcare work prior to heading to north west Queensland for work. Picture supplied.

Geoff Penton has over 30 years of experience in natural resource management and Landcare work prior to heading to north west Queensland for work. Picture supplied.

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"A fair to-do list" is how Southern Gulf NRM's new CEO Geoff Penton describes the task in front of him.

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"A fair to-do list" is how Southern Gulf NRM's new CEO Geoff Penton describes the task in front of him.

Mr Penton, who has over 30 years of experience in natural resource management and Landcare work behind him, has been acting in the interim role since former CEO Andrew McLean resigned in June to take on the CEO's position at Landcare Victoria.

Landcare gave Mr Penton his foundations when he became one of Queensland's first four regional Landcare coordinators in 1984, based in Toowoomba.

That was after growing up on the NSW far north coast at Lismore, where his family grew everything from cane to horticulture to dairy, and ran a tourist-oriented cafe selling local produce.

For the past 18 years he worked with the Queensland Murray Darling Committee, now SQ Landscapes.

Southern Gulf NRM chairwoman Megan Munchenberg said the board was very much looking forward to working with Mr Penton.

He said that pests and weeds were always a big issue for the Gulf region, especially in the wake of the 2019 monsoon.

"It needs money, no doubt, but it's about being strategic and working down the catchment," he said. "Healthy pasture also helps compete with weeds so we have to work on that angle too."

In addition, the management of cattle movements needed managing to prevent reinfestation.

Mr Penton said there were a number of current projects underway, many of them grazing land management projects making use of technology and demonstration sites, as well as monsoon recovery work in the areas of erosion and weeds.

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"We'll be spreading our wings as well, into nature-based tourism, waste management, and water quality and river health," he said.

"Part of the challenge is looking at how they get implemented.

"Weeds and pests could consume us 10 times over and the challenge is to access resources as well as getting those resources out there."

Following the 2019 decision not to merge with NQ Dry Tropics, the board took a fresh look at the organisation and has developed a new strategic plan to refocus with.

Mr Penton said it was also aimed at looking for additional efficiencies in internal operations and finding ways of improving service delivery.

The plan was signed off at the board's first face-to-face meeting for the year, having been meeting most of the year via videoconference due to the impacts of COVID-19.

The NRM group currently has 11 staff and will soon put two community extension staff on.

"We recently have accessed significant funding for the region so overall the organisation is in good shape to continue to focus on sustainable agriculture and natural asset conservation across the Southern Gulf region," Mr Penton said.

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