A catchment community perspective

Today proved that I’m involved in one too many projects. Not only did I delivered a speech on behalf of community groups engaged in catchment management on the Gold Coast at Healthy Waterways 2013 Ecosystem Health Report Card launch. I was MC!

Which I find interesting, as I once aspired to be an environmental scientist for an organisation like Healthy Waterways. Though, being a science communicator and engagement practitioner, I now have the pleasure of doing such fun engagements.

So, here are my thoughts and speech:

You could call me bias, which in science we don’t want to portray. However, I think the southern catchments of southeast QLD are the best and possibly the healthiest. Where in the region can you be surfing world class waves, and then spot a migratory shorebird foraging amongst a man-mad mangrove habitat. Then almost a stone throw away be looking out across world heritage hinterland where our catchments begin.  With over 600km of waterways, 9 times than in Venice, we are a water city. 

“The southern catchments of southeast Queensland have many challenges.  

Though we just have to look out the window and acknowledge the natural distinctions we have integrated in more recent development. In addition, the added value to catchment management to enable us to achieve a healthier waterways. This wouldn’t be possible without the many partnerships. For instance, the City of Gold Coast, SEQ Catchments, Griffith University, and the Gold Coast Catchment Association, and associated industry and community members.

LOGO-GCCAOn-ground and at the grassroots level, the Gold Coast Catchment Association is the umbrella organisation for community groups and individuals who are involved in active ecological restoration and catchment management work.

We recognise that there are an increasing number of groups and individuals who are taking on-ground action to repair and restore Gold Coast’s catchments – from our world heritage mountains to the coast. Therefore, seek to support and help network these groups so that collectively we can become stronger and more effective.

With much needed support from our partners and friends on the Gold Coast, to date, we have over 100 individual members, 51 community member groups and 43 industry members and partners – who together collectively contribute to catchment management  on the Gold Coast. Such success has been acknowledged on the national level being a finalist for a National Urban Landcare Award in 2012.

It might sound idealist, though our ultimate aim is to make a real difference on a regional scale, and to restore our catchments to places of beauty, clean water and native habitat that will support our communities and our wildlife for the centuries to come.

Though in some sections of our catchments we have achieved just that. For instance, Austinville Landcare Group, Nerang River Keepers, Currumbin Creek Carers, Coomera River Catchment Care Group and the Northeast Albert Landcare have all achieved incredible riparian restoration outcomes. And just a few kilometers up the catchment, we have Loders Creek Carers that have achieved what most would think couldn’t be achieved on the community level. Not to forget the BeachCare volunteers who have won numerous State and National Awards, which we find out if Currumbin wins Australia’s Cleanest Beach next month.

I can say on behalf of community volunteers involved in catchment management that it is inspiring to know amongst the glitz and glam of the Gold Coast, the wider community is responding positively to environmental pressures by joining and leading such causes. In fact, contributes over $1.5million in inkind contribution to catchment management on the Gold Coast. A significant value no governing body could fund, and more so create the community capacity and ownership that comes with volunteering in the environment. And I am one of those volunteers who plants trees and pull weeds voluntarily.

Being a ‘younger’ leader in the regional catchment network, I’m inspired each day to carry on the legacies and support what needs to be done. Hopefully in my lifetime I will see our catchments restored to places of beauty, clean water and native habitat that will support our communities and our wildlife for the centuries to come.

But there is a catch of course… we more investment in research, collaboration and community groups, and continue to support those that are out there doing catchment management. With more investment in waterways, the better the outcomes will be.”

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