Whitsundays Reef Guardians gather to build resilience for the Reef’s future

Whitsunday students will come together to learn how their actions and those of their community can make a difference to the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

Fifty-four students from six 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 program.

Reef Guardian Schools program manager Megan Connell said the annual eco challenge event encouraged students 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 environmental experts.

“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.

“Students will participate in hands-on activities at Galbraith Creek and Cannonvale foreshore where they will learn about land-based run-off, the importance of coastal vegetation, impacts of extreme weather, and how to build resilience for the Reef."

The theme of this year’s eco-challenge is to address the five key threats to the Reef – climate change, declining water quality, coastal development, direct use and marine debris.

The event is supported by local partners Whitsunday Catchment and Landcare, Eco Barge Clean Seas, Reef Catchments, and the Whitsunday Local Marine Advisory Committee.

Students and teachers will take home activities, skills and project ideas 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.