Help develop a plan to manage precious mangroves
They’re not an ecosystem that usually grabs headlines but now the quietly-achieving mangroves need help from the expertise and knowledge of locals in the Burnett Heads region.
Communities across the Southern Great Barrier Reef region are invited to provide input into a management plan for local mangroves and tidal wetland habitats to improve fish stocks, improving estuary water quality and help protect the Great Barrier Reef.
Scientists from TropWATER at James Cook University have teamed up with MangroveWatch, Gidarjil Development Corporation, the Burnett Mary Regional Group and Fitzroy Basin Authority for a new project funded by the Australian Government National Environmental Science Programme (NESP), called the Southern GBR CHAMP (Coastal Habitat Archive and Monitoring Program).
The Mangrove Management Plan will cover the Southern Great Barrier Reef region, centred around Burnett Heads.
Dr Norm Duke, an international mangrove scientist with TropWATER at James Cook University, said a public workshop will be held in Burnett Heads on Tuesday, April 19.
Following the workshop, Citizen Science Tidal Wetland Monitoring Training will be held from April 20-21. This will be a hands‐on training program in tidal wetland monitoring methods.
“The plan is to better manage local threats to mangroves and to help prioritise investment in mangrove rehabilitation that improves water quality in Southern GBR estuaries,” Dr Duke said.
“But scientists need local community support to effectively protect and manage natural places better. We are looking for community members who are keen to contribute their local knowledge and ideas to help improve local fisheries, improve estuary water quality and protect the Great Barrier Reef.”
Scientists, traditional owners, managers, industry experts and local residents will all be involved in developing the new program.
“The goal is to develop an action plan to better manage mangroves and saltmarsh in the Bundaberg and Gladstone regions.”
Monitoring will be lead by the Gidarjil Sea Country Rangers with their special knowledge, insight, expertise and passion for appreciating the importance and beauty of natural coastal resources.
Jock Mackenzie, coordinator of the MangroveWatch program, said: “This is a chance for interested locals to get involved, to learn about the health of local tidal wetlands, and to help gather valuable scientific knowledge about one of our most undervalued natural ecosystems, the mangroves.”
Dr Duke said if someone had eaten a fish or prawn lately, it is likely to have spent some of its life in the mangroves.
Mangroves also protect shorelines from erosion, prevent flood impacts from storm surges and store tonnes of carbon helping reduce the effects of climate change.
“If mangroves and saltmarshes aren’t healthy, then they are less effective at protecting the reef, there’s fewer fish to catch and coastal communities are put at risk from climate change.”
Mr Mackenzie said 35 per cent of the Burnett River mangroves were severely damaged or lost in the 2013 floods.
“Our upcoming surveys will show the status of mangroves and saltmarsh now, and the amount of recovery. We will gather information on issues such as poor water quality, changed hydrology, cattle grazing and vehicle damage threaten the natural rehabilitation. It is hoped that with better management and targeted investment in tidal wetland rehabilitation, damaged habitats will regrow and keep putting fish on our plates while improving estuarine water quality. This can only be achieved with effective ecosystem health monitoring and assessment.”
To be involved in the Southern GBR MangroveWatch program, contact Jock Mackenzie at MangroveWatch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0407 578 807.
For more information on mangroves and MangroveWatch programs, visit www.mangrovewatch.org.au or download the World Mangrove ID app.
Date: Tuesday 19th April
Time: 8:30am to 4:30pm
Location: Gidarjil Marine Training Facility, 2 Marine Drive, Burnett Heads.
Link to photos: http://bit.ly/22vkKx4
For interviews, contact: Dr Norm Duke TropWATER Centre, James Cook University, M: 0419 673 366
Caroline Kaurila, JCU Media Liaison, 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175