Million dollar opportunity for Whitsunday ‘reef champions’
THOSE who live, breathe and work on the reef have the opportunity to take charge in its preservation as part of a multimillion-dollar initiative.
The Great Barrier Reef Foundation has opened expressions of interest for community projects as part of the foundation's $14 million Reef Islands Initiative.
Innovators in the Whitsundays have access to $2.4 million to fund reef-saving projects that Division 2 councillor Al Grundy said would provide a chance for the community to take charge.
"The truth of the matter is, we could only dream of doing these types of projects two years ago," he said.
"Post-cyclone Debbie, I would have never dreamed that we would be able to start coral gardening and look at options to clean up and improve water quality around the island.
"The frameworks that were in place didn't allow us to take intervention or action.
"One of the huge things that's happened in the last two years is the changing of the mindset that we do need to act and that sitting on our hands is no longer an option."
Mr Grundy said while it was "early days", he hoped to see some innovative ideas come from the people who lived and worked on the reef.
"My initial thoughts are that we look at projects around improving the survival rates of the corals and that we do things like cleaning up the algae (and) reducing sediment loads, and this would have to be on a site by site basis," he said.
"I hope new ideas come forward as well as supporting existing projects like those with Daydream Island and restoration at Blue Pearl and Manta Ray Bay."
Expressions of interest are open to anyone in the community with a bright idea.
These include restoration and stewardship projects, educational and edu-tourism opportunities and initiatives that help the move toward a carbon neutral Whitsundays.
Great Barrier Reef Foundation managing director Anna Marsden hoped the funding would provide a unique opportunity for "reef champions" to take the lead in projects.
"We've worked closely with the local community, including Traditional Owners and tourism operators, to identify the vision and priority actions for restoration since launching the Reef Islands Initiative in the Whitsundays earlier this year," she said.
"We are now calling on organisations to step up as reef champions and lead activities that support a healthy reef.
"These could include rebuilding coral reefs and crucial habitats like mangroves, upskilling tourism operators and Traditional Owners to carry out important restoration work and piloting innovative technology and actions that will enable the tourism industry to lead the pathway to a carbon neutral Whitsundays."
Expressions of interest are open until August 31 and more information is available here.