In 2017, CAFNEC established a MangroveWatch program in Cairns to gather long term data on local estuaries and engage locals in the act of collecting and promoting the data as citizen scientists. Mangroves are vital ecosystems — they sequester more carbon than any terrestrial forest type and they do it 50x faster. They act as nurseries for fish, homes for various species, water filters, and buffers that protect our coasts.
In Far North Queensland we have the most diverse mangrove systems in the country, yet, dieback events, as seen in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and land clearing developments indicate that our coastal ecosystems are not invincible and certainly at huge risk in a changing climate and developing world.
Before the Cairns Chapter was started there was a major monitoring gap between Rockhampton in south-east Queensland and Princess Charlotte Bay in Cape York. MangroveWatch is important because we cannot protect and respond to disturbances in these vital ecosystems without knowledge of how they are changing. Long term monitoring from a baseline gives us a sound indicator of change over time. Volunteers are essential to the success of this research — their time and local knowledge of the region make Cairns MangroveWatch possible. By donating their time community volunteers injected $15,248 of labour into the project in the past year (based on the dollar replacement value hourly rate of $41.75 from the Australian Bureau of Statistics) demonstrating how citizen science in the non-profit sector can boost data collection and improve research.
Since its inception in 2017 the Cairns MangroveWatch chapter has gone from strength to strength. In 2019 we were stoked for the MangroveWatch Cairns Chapter to receive continued funding! Not only that, we are now working alongside MangroveWatch, South Cape York Catchments, Great Barrier Reef Legacy and Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation’s Yirrganydji Rangers to see a whole lot more coastal monitoring happening as a part of an expanded Far North Queensland MangroveWatch Program. This is thanks to Citizen Science funding by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
The expanded program will see all Wet Tropics major estuaries monitored by CAFNEC and our partners, gathering vital data on the health of our estuaries with some areas being recorded for the first time ever. We have also begun working with the Wet Tropics Healthy Waterways partnership to see that our MangroveWatch data be included in their annual report cards.
Sign-up for a trip
MangroveWatch trips require at least 5 volunteers:
1. Video camera operator
2. GPS Operator
5. Boat Driver
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Become a trip leader
Trip leaders attend MangroveWatch training sessions and understand the entire data collection process.
Anyone that has attended a training session and has access to a boat can be a trip leader.
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We need #citizenscientists like you to help us power this project! Sign up for email updates and we’ll be in touch with news, training opportunities and more!
This project is currently funded thanks to #CitizenScience Grants by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. It is also proudly supported by the Queensland Government—Queensland Citizen Science Grants. To establish the project the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) have previously received funding from the Queensland Government via their Engaging Science grants, Cairns Local Marine Advisory Committee (LMAC) and Cairns Regional Council.
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