Gladstone Harbour Catchment Care Program volunteers.

QGC: a partnership which leaves tonnes to be thankful for

First partnering in 2011, Conservation Volunteers Australia and QGC have celebrated six successful years of partnership. With this partnership drawing to an end, Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) would like to highlight the achievements made under the Gladstone Harbour Catchment Care Program; a program aimed at engaging and supporting the community of Gladstone in protecting and enhancing water quality in Gladstone Harbour and environs.

Over the course of the QGC partnership, the Gladstone Harbour Catchment Care Program delivered an integrated program of activities including environmental surveys, community volunteer days, and local engagement and education campaigns. In collaboration with Central Queensland University and Centre for Environmental Management, CVA undertook monthly marine debris surveys, frequent beach clean ups, and a time lapsed catchment to coast tagging study, using drift cards to assess marine debris movement against tidal and activity action. All activities were conducted across four key sites within the harbour, which insured that key use areas and tidal influence were represented within the data.

Volunteers undertaking marine debris surveys

Volunteers undertaking marine debris surveys

Since 2011, CVA has made significant progress in the on-ground monitoring and assessment of Gladstone Harbour. As at the end of 2016, over 550 local community volunteers had collected over 2,499 kg of marine debris; a total 14,866 items from across the four sites.

In order to secure the long term success of the program, education of the local community and all harbour users was a priority under this partnership. In addition to funding for conservation, QGC supported the local community by providing opportunities for sustainability and capacity building and as a result, the program has had a significant positive impact on the Gladstone Community since its inception. Throughout 2015/16 over 800 community members attended capacity building sessions and workshops, inclusive of health and safety training for other environmental and non-for-profit groups within Gladstone.

As a significant working harbour, for both industry and recreation, the on-going assessment of water quality within Gladstone Harbour is unquestionably vital to the local community and all harbour users. CVA has collaborated with nearly 90 groups from the Gladstone area to achieve mutual outcomes for the harbour and in turn, through proximity, the Great Barrier Reef. Through activities with a number of project partners, a total of 17 creek and riparian sites were rehabilitated and restored, assisting in improving overall water quality which enters the harbour.

Highlighted by the Gladstone Regional Council as a priority site for conservation efforts surrounding the harbour, Briffney Creek was a key site for the program. CVA engaged with local community members in caring for their waterways, having held numerous community working bees on the critical Briffney creek site. Since 2011 approximately 30,430 m2 of weeds and 783 kilograms of rubbish have been removed from the Briffney Creek site alone. In their place, the volunteers have also planted over 600 native stems; assisting in bank stabilisation, water purification, and an increase of habitat for local fauna.

Volunteers sorting marine debris collected

Volunteers sorting marine debris collected

“I enjoy helping the environment and I enjoy this project. I learnt that polluting is not good for the creeks and water ways as it flows down into the harbour so by removing the rubbish from upstream less rubbish flows into the harbour” – Attilio Scopel, volunteer

Looking back, what we were able to achieve in this partnership has been a great success both for the environment of the Gladstone Harbour and the local community. Removing over 2 tonnes of marine debris for the harbour – our 550 employees and volunteers certainly have a lot to be proud of and the Gladstone community as a whole, a tonne (or two) to be thankful for!

The Gladstone Harbour Catchment Care Program is managed by Conservation Volunteers Australia in consultation with Central Queensland University and the Centre for Environmental Management. Until the end of 2016, the project was funded by QGC.

Want to find out more about The Gladstone Harbour Catchment Care Program?  Check out the YouTube story!

If your company would like to explore opportunities to  partner with Conservation Volunteers Australia, please contact our partnership team.

Interested in volunteering at one of our community days in Gladstone? Contact our Volunteer Engagement Officer on (07) 4951 0933.