North to host international mangrove conference
One of the most threatened ecosystems in the world – mangroves – will be in the spotlight at the 2014 Australian Mangrove Society Conference in Townsville this week.
The conference, which is being held today and tomorrow (February 24 and 25), is hosted and funded by TropWATER at James Cook University.
TropWATER Director Dr Damien Burrows said the role and importance of mangroves was often overlooked.
“Mangroves are some of the most threatened ecosystems in the world,” Dr Burrows said.
“While mangroves are essential nurseries for many iconic commercial fish species such as barramundi and provide protection against wave and storm erosion, in some countries they are threatened by their over use for firewood, removal for development and polluted by land and ocean intrusions.”
An associated workshop: Re-establishing science in the rehabilitation and monitoring of mangroves and tidal salt marshes, will be held from February 26 to 28.
The workshop will focus on best practice methods of rehabilitation of mangroves, with sessions held by global experts in the field.
Dr Burrows said the event would involve national and international researchers, as well as managers and community members.
They will meet to present and discuss the latest research and information on the world’s mangrove systems.
Countries represented include USA, Thailand, Germany, Jamaica, Singapore, China and Vietnam.
Dr Burrows said almost all tropical countries had mangroves, with Indonesia having the most, followed by Australia and Brazil. The amount of mangroves each country has is based on how much tropical coastline they had, he said.
“Australia has the second greatest area of mangroves and ours are probably the least threatened of any country, due to the fact they have the greatest protection, so it’s up to us to lead the way on conservation and management.”
Dr Burrows said mangroves were an important part of the health of the coasts, including in the Great Barrier Reef region, where coastal development has been topical recently.
“Mangroves filter nutrients running to the reef, provide shoreline stabilisation and critical fish habitat,” he said.
“Coral reefs, seagrasses and mangroves are the three key coastal marine habitats but of those three, we know the least about mangroves, even though our towns are built around them.
“We don’t use mangroves for much here in Australia but overseas, mangroves are critical to the livelihoods of millions of people who depend upon mangrove forests for food, medicines and building materials. In many countries, mangrove forests are critical barriers reducing coastal erosion.”
Dr Burrows said internationally, the biggest threats to mangroves were clearing for agriculture and aquaculture.
“In Australia, the biggest threats are from coastal and urban development and pollution from agricultural, urban and industrial runoff, plus sea level rise.”
The conference will be held at the Conference Room, the Australian Tropical Science and Innovation Precinct (ATSIP) building, James Cook Drive, JCU Townsville
Best time for media photos or interviews:
10:30 - morning tea, 12:00 lunch
morning tea, 12:30 lunch
Wednesday, 26th February
10.00am – 10.30am morning tea, 3.00pm – 3.30pm afternoon tea
Thursday, 27th February
10.30am – 11am morning tea, 3.00pm – 3.30pm afternoon tea
Information for media: for interviews, contact Dr Burrows on 0409 621 696.
Caroline Kaurila, Media Liaison, JCU tel 07 4781 4586, mobile 0437 028 175
First published 24 February, 2014