Gladstone students will put their heads together this Thursday 20 July to workshop solutions to the key threats to the Great Barrier Reef.
54 students from ten local schools will take part in the annual Future Leaders Eco Challenge as part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian Schools initiative.
Reef Guardian Schools program manager Megan Connell said the annual eco challenge event was developed to implement projects that showcase citizen science and stewardship in Reef catchment communities.
Ms Connell said students would take part in activities that challenge them to consider their role in mitigating the threats to the Reef, and participate in workshops delivered by experts in various environmental fields.
“The eco challenge aims to guide and influence everyday actions and will go a long way toward a resilient Great Barrier Reef for future generations,” she said.
The theme of this year’s eco challenges is to address the five key threats to the Reef – climate change, declining water quality, coastal development, direct use and marine debris.
Marine Park Authority Liaison Officer Rhianna Rickard said students would be participating in hands-on activities on Curtis Island to learn about the biodiversity of island and coastal ecosystems and their importance in building the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.
"With the assistance of local partners, students will take part in a variety of activities including a tree planting project, guided ecology walk, seagrass assessments and marine debris clean up,” Ms Rickard said.
“Increasing students understanding about the challenges facing the Reef including marine debris empowers them to make real change in their schools and their local communities,” Ms Rickard said.
The event is generously supported by Gladstone Regional Council, along with Gladstone Ports Corporation, CQUniversity, Fitzroy Basin Association, Gidarjil Land and Sea Rangers, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, and Gladstone Locval Marine Advisory Committee.
Students and teachers will take home activities, skills and project ideas that they can implement in their own schools. These community stewardship activities contribute to the Reef 2050 Plan – the Australian and Queensland Governments’ 35-year plan for protecting the Great Barrier Reef.
Now in its 15th year, the Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian Schools program includes more than 300 schools and over 127,000 students from Torres Strait to Brisbane taking part in Reef education and environmental stewardship in their local area.