Bowen puts heads together for local and global reef initiative

Representatives from schools and organisations in the Bowen region joined forces yesterday to workshop ideas for local actions that will help the Great Barrier Reef and reefs across the globe.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority led the Reef Guardian networking meeting to generate fresh, locally-inspired initiatives to benefit the Great Barrier Reef – the largest reef ecosystem on the planet – which, in turn, contributes to the health of the world-wide reef ecosystem.

Falling in the International Year of the Reef – a world-wide campaign driven by the International Coral Reef Initiative – the meeting centred on small actions regional Queenslanders can pledge to help protect our global icon that’s right on our doorsteps. This will lead the way for the global community.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority engagement officer Katie Finch said one of the aims of working with communities was to brainstorm at the local level to make environmental waves across the globe.

"Regional Queenslanders have excellent ideas for how to benefit the Reef," she said.

"Local partnerships between organisations can make a big difference to the ecosystems across the planet.

"Initiatives such as refusing single-use plastics at the local level have been incredibly significant in Australian regional towns.

Other actions include reducing energy usage – such as turning off lights at the local sporting field a bit earlier – and how to reduce carbon emissions, such as by setting up carpooling networks."

Fostering partnerships and working together across all sectors in Reef management and the community is a key focus for the Marine Park Authority under the Reef Blueprint.

The Reef Guardian program recognises the good environmental work undertaken by communities, organisations and industries to protect the Reef. It involves working closely with those who use and rely on the Reef or its catchment, for recreation or business, to help build a healthier and more resilient Reef for the future.

Held at the Bowen State School’s Library, Kennedy Street the collaborative session was attended by nine local schools and partner organisations.

Similar Reef Guardian networking meetings will roll out across the Reef catchment over the next month.

The International Year of the Reef is an International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) campaign. The Marine Park Authority will co-chair the ICRI secretariat with Monaco in the 2018–2010 term, which includes International Year of the Reef activities.