Local Reef Guardian School students work together for the Reef

Published: 13/08/2015

The impact of everyday waste that finds its way into the Great Barrier Reef will be the focus for hundreds of students as they prepare for this year’s Future Leaders Eco Challenge (FLEC). 

Students and teachers from Reef Guardian schools across the Great Barrier Reef catchment are pulling on their gloves in anticipation of the annual event, which is an initiative of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). Events will take place in nine different locations across Queensland between August and November this year. 

GBRMPA’s Reef Guardian Schools programme manager Megan Sperring said the aims of the FLEC events are to foster stewardship and promote a culture of community custodianship for Reef protection, through hands-on workshops and activities in the Reef catchment. 

“It’s important to support future generations to be environmentally and ecologically aware of local and global ecosystems and this year the focus of our efforts will be on reducing marine debris” Megan said. 

Students will learn about marine debris and then pull on their gloves to clean up their local coastal environment at the FLEC events. The clean-ups are part of a broader initiative to minimise the source and occurrence of marine debris in the Marine Park.  

According to the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2014, plastic bags, discarded fishing gear, plastic and glass bottles, rubber thongs, aerosols and drink cans are commonly found in the Reef region. Volunteers collected over 683,000 individual items of marine debris, weighing over 42 tonnes, from beaches in the Great Barrier Reef region between 2008 and 2014. This was part of the Australian Marine Debris Initiative. 

“Increasing students’ awareness and understanding of the impacts of marine debris on our Reef empowers them to make real changes in their schools and local communities” Megan said. 

“As future custodians of the Reef, educating them about the role they can play in helping to protect the environment is invaluable.” 

The first in the series of FLEC events will take place on Wednesday, 12 August 2015 on Palm Island and involve more than 70 students and teachers from St Michael’s Catholic School and Bwgcolman Community School. 

Further FLEC events are scheduled to follow in the Whitsundays, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Yeppoon, Mackay, Ingham, Bowen and the Burdekin. 

GBRMPA’s Reef Guardian Schools program includes more than 310 schools and over 127,000 students from the Torres Strait to Brisbane taking part in Reef education and environmental activities in their local area. 

For more information about the Reef Guardian School Future Leaders Eco Challenge events, please check http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/our-partners/reef-guardians/reef-guardian-schools

Name: GBRMPA Media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846