Reef Guardian school showcased to global coral reef experts

Published: 18/07/2012

International coral reef managers will take a first-hand look at how Reef Guardian schools are protecting their local environments, with a visit to the Gordonvale State School near Cairns today.   

The visit is part of the 27th annual general meeting of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) – a partnership between governments, international organisations and non-government organisations to protect coral reefs.  

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), on behalf of the Australian Government, is hosting the initiative over the next two years in partnership with the Belize Government.

GBRMPA Reef Guardians Director Karen Vohland said the visit to the Gordonvale State Primary School would enable Australia to showcase its highly successful reef stewardship program.

"This is a great opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of the Reef Guardians program where tens of thousands of students are involved in the long-term protection of coral reefs," she said.

"The practical work of Gordonvale students to improve the Reef's health and resilience is a great example of why we are very proud of this initiative, and why we regard it as something other countries could emulate.

"There are currently 285 schools and more than 113,000 students involved in the Reef Guardian Schools program, which is now in its tenth year.

"Involving schools brings many benefits, from raising awareness about environmental impacts to delivering practical on-the-ground actions to improve the health of waterways that flow into the ocean.

"Most importantly, it delivers the message that what we do on a local level can make a big difference."

Ms Vohland said GBRMPA would also highlight to ICRI delegates how other parts of the community could be encouraged to participate in securing a better future for coral reefs.

"Participants will also visit Reef Guardian cane farmers at Gordonvale, as well as Reef Guardian fishers in Cairns," she said.

"Their involvement demonstrates how this program has gone from strength to strength, in promoting schools, councils, fishers, farmers and graziers who are taking their own individual actions to benefit the Reef.

"From reducing run-off from agricultural land to reducing household waste and regenerating natural habitats, it's all translating into practical actions.

"As a result, our message to coral reef managers in other countries is that a community-based approach is essential for raising awareness on how we can protect these precious and fragile environments."

The International Coral Reef Initiative meeting is taking place in Cairns between July 16-19.

Name: GBRMPA media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846