Future leaders protect inshore biodiversity in the Torres Strait

Published: 30/10/2012

Students from Reef Guardian Schools in the Torres Strait have been enlisted to help protect plants, animals and habitats in inshore areas of the Great Barrier Reef.

Fifteen student leaders from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart’s Thursday Island campus and Tagai State College’s Horn Island campus took part in the day-long Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's 2012 Future Leaders Eco Challenge last week.

GBRMPA Reef Guardian Schools Acting Program Manager, Carolyn Luder, said the event included hands-on activities around Thursday Island to show students 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."

Tagai Environmental Education Coordinator, Tim Hillier, said the event was a great opportunity for students and teachers to learn more about the local environment and ways they can help protect it.

"The kids learnt practical ways to look after the environment, while hearing about the importance of seagrass in ecosystems, current environmental issues in the Torres Strait and work pathways in environmental conservation,” he said.

Students visited the Marine Discovery Centre to find out how to identify seagrass and to hear about the role of Torres Strait Land and Sea Rangers, before conducting a clean-up at Federal Beach.

The event was supported by the Torres Strait Regional Authority Land and Sea Management Unit, Tangaroa Blue Foundation, Education Queensland’s Earth Smart Science, James Cook University’s TropWATER.

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

Name: GBRMPA Media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846