As I wrote of in the last TWQ newsletter, there has been a shift in thinking about Great Barrier Reef (GBR) management with a notable increase in acceptance of the need for more direct interventions such as species and habitat restoration. In the GBR, this has been ensured by the advent of recurring bleaching and more frequent or more damaging cyclones, whilst within the GBR catchments, the demonstration through research and modelling that on-farm practice change by itself is unlikely to meet several key water quality targets has also promulgated an increase in additional activities such as wetland and landscape restoration. The TWQ Hub ties much of its research to evaluating and enhancing the efficacy of on-ground management actions. As such, we are heavily involved in a number of key landscape and habitat restoration activities within the GBR catchments and marine environments.
The NESP TWQ Hub is a major backer of the work of Associate Prof Andrew Brooks and his team from Griffith University, who have just won a prestigious Eureka Prize for their work on restoring and stabilising large alluvial gullies that are major contributors of sediment to the GBR. Besides repairing landscapes, the extensive work of this team has had a significant influence on policy and funding directions in catchment repair. We have commissioned a 3-year project led by Dr Nathan Waltham to provide supporting science to improve outcomes for several of the many wetland restoration activities being undertaken by GBR regional NRM bodies and national NGO’s such as Greening Australia. These restorations are yielding almost immediate improvements in water quality and fish diversity, engaging local communities and media with good-news stories, keeping Nathan busy re-telling the outcomes of his fish surveys and barramundi captures – an enviable way to spend ones’ days. In the marine environment, our research supporting the Crown of Thorns Starfish control program has yielded significant improvements in culling efficiency, saving large tracts of coral from predation, and provided social benefits through the training of young people as qualified divers.
On 20 November, the TWQ Hub will be hosting a science presentation day at the Mercure Inn in Townsville. The day will feature presentations from a dozen of our researchers on their work funded by the Hub. This TWQ Hub Science event coincides with the GBR Water Quality Science workshop which is to be held at the same venue from 21-23 November. Anyone is welcome to the TWQ Hub science day and the day, including food, is free for all registrants. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest. Further information will appear on the Hub website www.nesptropical.edu.au.