In 2017 the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority convened 70 reef scientists, managers, Traditional Owners and other reef stakeholders to develop the Reef Blueprint for Resilience. This was an action plan designed to provide a pathway to support the health and ongoing resilience of the Reef.
Over the last two years Reef Ecologic has partnered with citizen science organisations, community members, industry and Traditional Owners to implement and strengthen collaboration across citizen science programs in the Townsville and Palm Island regions.
We collated results from multiple workshops and lessons learned from our project to develop this ‘Reef Blueprint for Local Citizen Science Action’
This blueprint is designed around six key initiatives, actions we feel if implemented can support improved localised citizen science activities and outcomes linked to the Marine Park Authority’s Blueprint for Resilience.
Our first recommendation is to work more closely with partners to maximise logistics, improve cost efficiencies and enhance camaraderie amongst citizen science programs.
Recognising that there are at least four key methods for underwater surveys we propose supporting complementary methods, reviewing survey techniques and providing cross-training to enhance participant capacity. Additionally we would like to measure carbon emissions of field activities and aspire that all programs operate carbon neutrally by 2023.
Data access and use would be improved with a collaborative database. This could be achieved through partnerships with the Atlas of Living Australia (https://www.ala.org.au/) or GBRMPA’s Reef Knowledge system(https://reefiq.gbrmpa.gov.au/ReefKnowledgeSystem).
Working collaboratively will allow all groups to enhance communications of data and results. We recommend promoting marquee events for citizen scientist participation such as World Oceans Day and Earth Day.
A great outcome of our project was the extensive Indigenous and youth participation and the enthusiasm they displayed was infectious. We propose reviewing participatory models with linkages to training opportunities through programs such as ATSIMS(https://atsims.com/), the Reef Restoration & Leadership Workshop (https://reefecologic.org/project/rrworkshop/) and Reef Ranger programs (https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/coasts-waterways/reef/preserve-the-wonder/rangers).
Finally we recommend the creation of a centralised Citizen Science Volunteer and Project Register to provide up-to-date information on current projects and participation opportunities
Delivering these initiatives involves a combination of improvements to existing partnership and management support, consistent ongoing funding and a willingness by proponents to work collaboratively on solutions.
If you have any feedback or suggestion please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or provide comments below. But we feel this could be a great initiative to improve citizen science in our region and help support the ongoing health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Integrated Coral Reef Citizen Science Program is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.