Cassowary Coast Future Eco Leaders

Published: 05/09/2014

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More than 60 students and teachers from 10 Reef Guardian Schools in the Cassowary Coast region swapped the classroom for the outdoors to discover how coastal ecosystems help protect the Reef.

The day-long activities were part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) annual Future Leaders Eco Challenges that raise awareness about how activities on the land can affect the marine environment.

Future Leaders Eco Challenges are about students acting local but thinking global when it comes to addressing threats to the Reef.

GBRMPA Far Northern Regional Liaison Officer Phil Laycock said during the day students learnt about the biodiversity of coastal ecosystems and the role wetlands play in improving water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef.

“Students measured and compared the water quality of a range of samples collected from across the catchment including samples from the Mission Beach Wetlands,” he said.

“Coastal wetlands capture nutrients and sediment leaving our catchments preventing these from entering the Great Barrier Reef.”

As well as being water quality scientists, students went on an insect safari around the Mission Beach Wetland with local entomologist Richard Piper and Landcare coordinator Fiona George. They discovered the different roles insects play in an ecosystem such as pollinators, recyclers, predators and prey.

“We also asked students to be beach detectives and find evidence of plants and animals washed up by the tide,” Mr Laycock said.

“By collecting this evidence students were able to make a list of the plants and animals that are likely to live close to the beach and build a picture of the diversity of life found in coastal ecosystems.”

Students attending were chosen to represent their school as Reef Guardian Future Leaders and to take messages they learnt back to share with other students.

The event was opened by Cassowary Coast Regional Council Mayor Bill Shannon and was supported by Mission Beach State School, Terrain NRM, Landcare, and Scientific Advisory Services Pty Ltd.

GBRMPA’s Reef Guardian Schools program includes 308 schools and over 126,000 students from Torres Strait to Brisbane taking part in Reef education and environmental activities in their local area.

Name: GBRMPA Media
Contact: (07) 4750 846