Burdekin schools join record networking effort to protect the Reef

Burdekin teachers have today come together in record numbers to discuss how they can contribute to efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef, as part of the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority’s annual Reef Guardian Networking Meeting hosted by Burdekin Shire Council.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said the annual meetings, run through the Reef Guardian Schools program, empowered schools and local environmental agencies to make positive environmental changes for the marine environment.

“Coinciding with the International Year of the Reef 2018, today’s meeting at Burdekin Shire Council Chambers has attracted a record-breaking school attendance, with 12 Burdekin Reef Guardian Schools and representatives from nine environmental and partner organisations,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“With our close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, the Burdekin has an important role to play in protecting and conserving the Marine Park through activities that improve the health and resilience of the Reef.
“One of the key messages in the International Year of the Reef is that everyone – regardless of where you live – can help look after the environment through simple actions in your home school or office. This includes minimising the use of plastics; saying no to single use straws and coffee cups; and reducing electricity consumption.”

The Reef Guardian Council program showcases environmentally sustainable practices undertaken by councils in the Great Barrier Reef catchment.

Cr McLaughlin said the program recognised the effective management and protection of the Reef required a coordinated effort from industries, communities and all levels of government.

“Many local residents assume their councils only deal with rates, roads and rubbish but Reef Guardian Councils are doing much more than this in an effort to protect the Great Barrier Reef,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“There are 17 councils between Bundaberg and Cooktown in the Reef Guardian Councils program undertaking a range of projects. This covers a 300,000 square kilometre area and a population of almost 900,000 people.”

Cr McLaughlin said Burdekin Shire Council, together with contributing landholders, NQ Dry Tropics and Lower Burdekin Water, is engaged in ongoing activities to protect local waterways and aquatic ecosystems.

“In 2016/17, hundreds of hours were spent on restoration works transforming weed-choked waterways into healthy aquatic ecosystems,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“In one project, 4,000 cubic metres of weeds was removed from Kalamia Lagoon, directly upstream from Alva Beach, and transferred to nearby farms to trial as crop fertilizer – reducing chemical run off into the lagoon.”

Along with teachers, today’s event brings together staff from organisations including Burdekin Shire Council, Bowen-Burdekin Local Marine Advisory Committee, Birdlife Townsville, the Bowen Burdekin Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee, Burdekin Canegrowers, Gudjuda Reference Group, NQ Dry Tropics, Paluma Environmental Education Centre and Tangaroa Blue.

For further information please visit Council’s Reef Guardian Council information page or contact Council’s Customer Service Centre on (07) 4783 9800.

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