Mackay students take up the Future Leaders Eco Challenge

Published: 08/09/2014

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More than 60 students and teachers from five Reef Guardian Schools in the Mackay region swapped the classroom for the outdoors to learn how local environmental actions can protect the Great Barrier 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 Liaison Officer Katie Finch said during the day students participated in hands-on activities at Wetland Walkabout, Slade Point to learn about the importance of wetlands in protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

"With the assistance of local partners, Wetland Walkabout is being used as an outdoor classroom by local schools so they can study the role wetlands play in water quality protection,” she said.

Students participated in a variety of activities during the day including a Wetland Walkabout tour, identifying pest species and biological methods of control, and an introduction to wetland birds.

"One of the pest species students learnt about is the aquatic pest plant, salvinia molesta which creates a physical barriers to aquatic and semi-aquatic animals, restricting their movements and breeding activities," Mrs Finch said.

"Richard Brown from Mackay Regional Council explained how salvinia molesta can reduce the infiltration of sunlight preventing the exchange of air that normally occurs with an open water surface.”

The new skills and knowledge that students learnt during the day can help with future learning opportunities and implementing Reef Guardian projects at school or in the community.

The event was officially opened by Richard Brown, Natural Environment Officer, Mackay Regional Council, and also supported by the property owners and caretakers, Conservation Volunteers Australia and Reef Catchments.

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 0846