Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Mangrove Keepers Rolling on the River; Australia-Firstenvironmental Program MangroveWatch Notches Up a Successful First Year as Dedicated Environment Volunteers Dig Deep, Reports TONI McRAE

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Mangrove Keepers Rolling on the River; Australia-Firstenvironmental Program MangroveWatch Notches Up a Successful First Year as Dedicated Environment Volunteers Dig Deep, Reports TONI McRAE

Article excerpt

The River Keepers are among us.

Twenty-three of them, chugging slowly along the waterways of the Burnett-Mary region, video cameras in hand, meticulously monitoring the ancient mangroves that weave and twist their way along our coastline and salt marshes.

Last weekend the River Keepers and their friends jubilantly celebrated the first year of Mangrove Watch, an Australia-first program that supports and facilitates better management of our threatened tidal wetlands.

University of Queensland scientists, including the nation's foremost mangrove specialist Norm Duke, met with Hervey Bay, Tin Can Bay, Bundaberg and Burrum volunteers in Hervey Bay.

"It was a significant meeting," says Tim Thornton, River Keeper, with wife Sol, of the Burrum and its tributaries the Cherwell, Isis and Gregory rivers.

"It's not only what we've managed to achieve in our first 12 months but the fact we also relaunched the project for another year. We are Federal and State Government-funded so we have no guarantees we can continue into any new year."

Tim says he's done 110km in the program's first year "at six knots".

"The total length of the Burrum River system is 150km so we're doing alright. Usually there are two to three of us in the boat. Temp Brown and Chris Ballantyne join me on the video trips."

CyThe great thing about collecting and collating all this data across the region is that we are getting a video record of the end product of our rivers' health.

"The health of the mangroves is the ultimate guide to the health of the rivers. If the mangroves are suffering then the river is too."

The local volunteers have a growing support system in the Mangrove Hub. That's the UQ group of scientists and student enthusiasts and they too venture out into our rivers to take part in the monitoring.

"Our target estuaries and shorelines also include the Mary and Elliott rivers," says Tim. …

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