07 4032 1746 admin@cafnec.org.au



MangroveWatch is a citizen-science partnership between communities, schools and scientists to document changes in local mangrove habitats started by JCU TropWater and run on the ground by groups across Australia. Not only does MangroveWatch produce useful data for scientific research but it also involves community members in critical scientific processes, leading to an increase in public awareness and skill sets. 


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.

In the first year of MangroveWatch in Cairns alone we trained 113 people in the method, collected over 20 hours of data across tens of kilometres in multiple estuaries in Far North Queensland. We’ve trained members of the community, school students, teachers, indigenous rangers and other environment groups and businesses in the method and can’t wait to take the project further as it enters it’s 4th year.



Mangrove Monitoring

We monitor 7 estauries across the Wet Tropics Region annually:

– Trinity Inlet

– Barron River

– Russell River

– Mulgrave River

– Johnstone River

– Moresby River

– Hinchinbrook Channel

Data is collected using the Shoreline Video Assessment Methods (SVAM). The data collected is analysed by Earthwatch Australia’s Tidal Wetlands Ecologist. This data is analysed and reported in the Wet Tropics Waterways Health Report Card .

Volunteer Roles

1. Skipper – drives the boat

2. Video Camera Operator – films the shoreline

3. GPS Operator – marks key observations on GPS

4. Photographer – takes photos

5. Observer – takes written notes


Local Action Plans

Local Action Plans are community driven, estuary specific plans for the protection of mangroves. The community decides which threats to address and brainstorm and plan on ground actions to mitigate those threats.


Current Local Action Plans:

Trinity Inlet – Developing an education campaign to raise awareness of mangroves. Gaining awareness of water quality within Trinity Inlet.


Mulgrave River – Developing an education campaign alongside schools.

Any volunteer under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who will be responsible for the welfare of the minor in their care for the duration of any CAFNEC events or activities.

Anyone who works, volunteers or participates in CAFNEC spaces or events must uphold our Code of Conduct.


For general inquiries contact get in touch with Shannon Bredeson at projects@nullcafnec.org.au or ring the office on 07 4036 1746


MangroveWatch Volunteer Training: May 2018

Want more general information on MangroveWatch? Click here to head to the landing page.  About the training: Join the Cairns MangroveWatch crew. Come along to the volunteer training day to get skilled up on the videographic method so you can record data on our local...

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MangroveWatch Cairns Volunteer Training

This training has been and gone - check out the Mangrove Watch Cairns Chapter page for up to date information on the project.    About the training: The Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) have received funding from the Cairns Local Marine...

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Mangrove ReefBlitz Events

The Cairns & Far North Environment Centre are excited to be teaming up with Mangrove Watch, Djunnunji Land & Sea Rangers and others to deliver some exciting mangrove related events on the 29th - 30th October as a part of the...

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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 along with The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. It is also proudly supported by the Queensland Government—Queensland Citizen Science Grants and Wet Tropics Management Authority Climate Action Grant. 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), Cairns Regional Council, and Terrain NRM Natural Capital Grant.

We are proud to partner with volunteers, land care groups, and Indigenous ranger groups across Wet Tropics Estuaries and in the Cape. They generously provide their knowledge and resources to make the monitoring possible and enhance environmental stewardship opportunities in the region.

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