Future leaders protect inshore biodiversity in Rockhampton

Published: 13/08/2012

Students from Reef Guardian Schools in Rockhampton are being enlisted to protect plants, animals and habitats near the shoreline of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

More than 25 students from seven primary schools will take part in the day-long Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's 2012 Future Leaders Eco Challenge, during a field trip to North Keppel Island.

GBRMPA Reef Guardian Schools Acting Program Manager, Carolyn Luder, said students will learn how the coastal, marine and Reef catchment areas are interconnected and reliant on one another to function.

"Inshore ecosystems cover about 10 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef and are made up of a diverse range of habitats including seagrass meadows, salt marshes, mangroves, estuaries and beaches," she said.

"Some of these habitats and species may not be part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area but they are interconnected and vital to the health of the Reef.

"These areas are under a lot of pressure from a range of impacts including coastal development and declining water quality, so it's vital students understand the need for long-term protection of these habitats."

Rockhampton grazier, Jeff Mills – a participant in the Reef Guardian Grazier program – said he welcomed the Future Leaders Eco Challenge.

"We're pleased to be part of the program, working with the student leaders of tomorrow. It's important for students to know that even if they live some distance from the Reef, they can still protect its health," Mr Mills said.

The event will be jointly hosted with the North Keppel Island Environmental Education Centre, with support from Jeff Mills (Reef Guardian Grazier), GBRMPA's Indigenous Partnerships Group, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Earth Smart Schools.

Reef Guardian Schools is an environmental education program run by GBRMPA.

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