Reef Guardian Councils gather to support health of the Reef

Published: 24/10/2013

A gathering of local council representatives from across Queensland tomorrow will hear about the importance of restoring coastal habitats as a way to improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

Held in Cairns, the annual steering committee meeting of 13 Reef Guardian Councils will also give delegates the opportunity to share lessons learnt from local environmental projects and swap ideas on improving sustainable development practices.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Reef Guardian Council program manager Deb Packman said local governments play a vital role in securing the future of one of the world’s most important natural assets.

“It’s become increasingly clear that if we want to boost the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef, we need to improve the health of a wide variety of coastal ecosystems, whether it be estuaries, forests, mangroves, freshwater wetlands or the coastline itself,” she said.

“What happens on land is having an impact out at sea, particularly if it reduces water quality. This in turn affects a wide range of plants and animals in inshore areas of the Marine Park.

“Through their decision-making processes, local councils have the ability to make a real difference when it comes to restoring and reconnecting these coastal habitats.”

The workshop will also explore ways to improve water and waste management practices and address the environmental challenges that come with a growing population along the east coast of Australia.

Ms Packman said the event provides Reef Guardian Councils access to knowledge, resources and one-on-one networking opportunities to help improve local environmental management practices and planning.

“When you consider that these councils cover an area of more than 300,000 square kilometres with a population of almost 900,000 people, there is real power here for long-term environmental change,” she said.

“They have an important role in planning for sustainable population growth, approving environmentally sound developments, and preparing the community for climate change impacts.

“Many local residents assume their councils only deal with rates, roads and rubbish but Reef Guardian Councils are doing much more than this in an effort to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

“There is some great work happening in waterway rehabilitation, urban stormwater treatment, waste reuse and recycling, erosion control and community planning.

“This event is about sharing those experiences so the entire Great Barrier Reef catchment can benefit in the long term.”

Reef Guardian Councils is an initiative run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. 


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