Griffith pair to launch landcare group at Seaway clean-up

Reef Check Australia four people in scuba gear at the beach

Griffith University will play an important role when Gold Coast community groups and volunteers launch a land and sea environmental clean-up at Doug Jennings Park at the Southport Spit on Sunday (May 24).

While divers trawl the water to collect and clear debris, on land the volunteers will embark on major beach cleaning and clearing.

Fittingly, the occasion will feature the launch of Gold Coast Intrepid Landcare (GCIL), a new group intent on nurturing youth participation in, and awareness of, environmental activities. It is founded by Griffith Bachelor of Science graduate Juliet Saltmarsh and Master of Environmental Education student Paula van Breda.

“As a passionate, young and recent science graduate from Griffith, I recognised the need to connect youth on the Gold Coast to environmental causes,” says Juliet.

Juliet Saltmarsh, co-founder of Gold Coast Intrepid Landcare, makes friends with a baby saltwater crocodile
Juliet Saltmarsh, co-founder of Gold Coast Intrepid Landcare, makes friends with a baby saltwater crocodile

“There are many amazing initiatives out there and they are already helping to carve bright futures, yet not enough young people know about them.”

The idea for GCIL was spawned when Juliet and Paula attended a Gold Coast Landcare leadership retreat in March. They recognised the need to raise youth awareness about existing environmental causes and to connect youth with local elders to share knowledge and experience.

“Since connecting with Landcare, I have discovered many opportunities and have met other like-minded young people,” says Juliet, who is now employed through the Federal Government’s Green Army environmental action program.

Sunday’s event at the Southport Spit is coordinated through Reef Check Australia and other participants include the City of Gold Coast, Griffith University Dive Club, Gold Coast Catchment Association, Responsible Divers, Responsible Runners and Nerang Riverkeepers.

When the work begins, two teams of volunteers will tackle debris above and below the water and all collected items will be recorded through the Australian Marine Debris Initiative to inform protection strategies for local marine wildlife against threatened and actual pollution.

Reef Check Australia spokeswoman Ms Jodi Salmond says marine debris is a huge problem, killing thousands of sea birds, turtles and marine animals each year.

“It’s estimated that more than 80 per cent of collected marine debris originates from the land. With six million tonnes of rubbish making its way into our oceans every year, community clean-ups highlight the direct effect on important ecosystems,” she says.

Registration for Sunday’s community clean-up will take place from 9.30am at the Gold Coast Seaway opposite the dive platform.

Participants are reminded to bring sun protection, adequate footwear and plenty of water.

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/reefcheckaustralia or go to http://goldcoastcatchments.org/