Reef Guardian Council news

Reef Guardian Council News is the Authority’s e-newsletter for Reef Guardian Councils and their key partners.  The e-newsletter showcases some of the many and varied activities Reef Guardian Councils are undertaking to help address key threats to the Reef. If you work for a local government, or local government partner organisation, and would like to subscribe please email

August 2021 Reef  Guardian News

Propagating planting participation

© Bundaberg Regional Council

© Bundaberg Regional Council

Bundaberg Regional Council is encouraging the community to dig in and get involved in the region’s One Million Trees project through the roll out of two new programs this year with support of the community.

The programs include the Resident Voucher Program and Landowner Program.

The Resident Voucher Program was trialled in 2020 with great success.

The program was fully subscribed in the short space of three days after making 250 vouchers available for residents (one voucher being good for two free seedlings). With strong support from the region, the program was launched this year. Residents can apply for a voucher for two free trees from Bundaberg Landcare.

Increased community engagement will help the region deliver on its goal to plant one million trees by the end of 2024, which in turn will result in reduced urban heat, increased natural habitat, enhanced attractiveness of the region and improved wellbeing.

The project additionally helps address Reef-related threats linked to climate change, land-based run-off and coastal development.

Check out Bundaberg Regional Council’s webpage for more details such project’s progress, which is effectively illustrated through an interactive map  showing all the locations where trees have been planted.

Cultivating positive behaviour change

© McKenzie-Mohr & Associates Inc.

© McKenzie-Mohr & Associates Inc.

In recognition of the connections that Reef Guardian Councils have with their communities in the Reef catchment, world-renowned behaviour change specialist Dr Doug Mackenzie-Mohr was engaged by the Authority to deliver behaviour change training to council staff in June 2021.

Participants learned the five steps of ‘Community-Based Social Marketing’ (CBSM) and were exposed to numerous case studies illustrating its use throughout the world to foster behaviour change.

The steps included selecting behaviours, identifying barriers, developing strategies, conducting pilots, and broad scale implementation.

The training also included an electronic copy of Dr Mackenzie-Mohr’s New York Times recommended Fostering Sustainable Behaviour book and six intensive CBSM sessions.

The intensive sessions focused on six topics — selected in consideration of their relationship to key Reef threats, impact on Reef health and resilience and relevance to councils. These included:

  • Fish responsibly
  • Reduce artificial light
  • Drive responsibly on beaches
  • Reduce food waste
  • Compost organic waste
  • Plant native species.
  • Forty-six Reef Guardian Council staff from 12 councils attended the training. These councils are now better equipped than ever before to cultivate Reef stewardship in catchment communities.

Cairns leads climate action


© McKenzie-Mohr & Associates Inc.

Cairns Regional Council is currently developing a climate change strategy to shape the next decade of climate action.

This will build on previous climate action and coastal hazard planning, investment in renewable energy and an emissions reduction of 50% on 2007/08 levels by the end of 2021.

The strategy will:

  • identify a pathway for the council to further reduce its greenhouse gas emissions
  • goals and actions for the council’s own operations
  • ways to support the community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to unavoidable impacts
  • opportunities to develop Cairns into the capital of the Smart Green Economy in Australia.

We commend Cairns Regional Council for developing such a bold strategy. This is a fine example of local government leading the way on climate change action.

Reef councils centre of attention

© Wet Tropics Healthy Waterways Partnership

© Wet Tropics Healthy Waterways Partnership

Seven Reef Guardian Councils recently featured in the centrefold of the Reef and Rivers magazine, launched by Wet Tropics Waterways last month.

The article contained feature stories showcasing the environmental initiatives of Wujal Wujal, Cairns, Douglas, Cassowary Coast, Tablelands, Hinchinbrook and Mareeba councils in the Wet Tropics region.

This was an excellent opportunity to give councils the recognition they deserve for the work they’re undertaking to improve the health and resilience of the Reef.

June 2021 Reef Guardian News

Recycling program upgrade

Cassowary Coast Regional Council. Image credit Cassowary Coast Regional Council

Recycling program upgrade. © Cassowary Coast Regional Council

Cassowary Coast Regional Council has recently expanded its recycling program to include household and cordless tool batteries.

When batteries are sent to landfill, they leach toxic substances such as cadmium, mercury and lead into the ground which can pollute soils, waterways and ecosystems including the Reef.

To make it easier for residents to recycle their used and unwanted batteries, Council has placed 12 specially marked orange bins across the region at libraries, customer service centres and waste transfer stations. The batteries are then collected by a contractor who transports them to a Cleanaway facility for recycling.

With the addition of batteries, the recycling program now diverts 22 waste products from landfill.

To promote the news and encourage the community to recycle, the Cassowary Coast Regional Council has advertised the recycling program on social media and on radio, and has provided a primary school education session.

By working together and making small changes in how we manage waste, we can help protect the Reef from threats such as land-based run-off.

Getting dirt on erosion

Douglas Shire Council Erosion and Sediment Control Workshop. Image credit Douglas Shire Council.

Erosion and Sediment Control workshop. © Douglas Shire Council

Douglas Shire Council recently hosted a community Erosion and Sediment Control workshop on 29 April — coincidentally after 10 straight days of torrential rain.

“The Douglas Shire is one of the wettest places in Australia,” Sustainability Officer Melissa Mitchell said.

“The workshop was designed with the Wet Tropics in mind.

“It addressed what erosion is, how it is caused, and the repercussions of not having effective erosion and sediment control practices.

“The workshop also covered pollution control and focused on defining best control practises, and practical methods to improve water quality.”

Land-based run-off is a major threat to the Reef. Improving erosion and sediment control practices is a cost-effective strategy to reduce environmental impacts and cost-implications.

Tools and training resources from the workshop can be found here.

The workshop was part of a funded project to build Urban Stormwater and Erosion and Sediment Control Capacity by the Queensland Government.

Waterway naturalisation

Construction has begun for the Belle Eden Park Waterway Naturalisation in the Bundaberg Region — an exciting and innovative project delivering an integrated approach to treating stormwater runoff.

By restoring the Belle Eden Park drainage channel to a natural waterway, the project will improve stormwater quality and treat polluted stormwater runoff which is harmful to sensitive downstream waterways and ecosystems such as the Reef.

The project also aims to make the area a wonderful recreational space for residents by providing several new footpath connections, a new pedestrian bridge, a new picnic shelter and park benches, waterway rock crossings, additional trees for shade and grassed open spaces for active play.

The project supports the active transport network by encouraging residents to use local pathways. The project is funded through the Australian Government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program (LRCIP) and financial contributions from developers.

Bell Eden Park Waterway Naturalisation. Copyright Bundaberg City Council

Restoring the Belle Eden Park drainage channel. © Bundaberg Regional Council