Working together to protect the Great Barrier Reef’s ‘water purifying system’

The role and importance of Indigenous knowledge and expertise has been highlighted at a review workshop for a Tropical Water Quality Hub project on mangrove health monitoring and management in the southern GBR.

Dr Norm Duke from JCU leads Project 2.3.4, which includes the Southern GBR Coastal Habitat Archive and Monitoring Program (CHAMP). Dr Duke hosted the project’s Stakeholder Workshop in Rockhampton on April 28, bringing together local and state-level government representatives in addition to traditional owners, and other stakeholders. The aim was to build networks and share data, insight and goals for mangrove management.

Representatives from three local councils, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Indigenous organisation Gidarjil Development Corporation and members of the community were present at the workshop, which Dr Duke described as highly successful.

“The aim of the workshop was the exchange of information between end-users of this project and it was a great success in that respect,” he said.

“The networking is working well – it could be seen as a great marriage between research, management and traditional owners in the region.”

“Mangroves are the purifiers and cleaners when it comes to water quality on the Great Barrier Reef,’ Dr Duke said.

“Their health and condition can be degraded by floods or storm damage and their resilience to these factors is reduced by the clearing of riparian vegetation.

“The recovery really depends on the actions of their relevant land managers – we can offer advice on restoration and rehabilitation of the shore and enlarging of the riparian zone and encourage practicable and suitable management techniques.”

Dr Duke also pointed to the instrumental role played by indigenous rangers from the Gidarjil Development Corporation in carrying out surveys of the relevant river systems, in addition to direct rehabilitation efforts for effected estuaries.

“We’ve been working with a range of Indigenous groups on this project and they’ve been invaluable in both shoreline surveys and getting us these powerful outcomes in restoration,” he said.


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