As the world celebrates World Wetlands Day with the 2017 theme “Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction” the BCC is considering whether views of the water are more important than the retention of mangroves.
Mangroves are protected plants under the Fisheries Act regulated by the State Government but following a petition received recently, Brisbane City Council (BCC) is soon to vote on whether they support the views of petitioners who want mangroves between Lota and Wynnum removed. Peter Cumming has stated that he recognizes the value of mangroves and only supports maintaining a gap of 125 metres along the Lota Camping Reserve Park.
This is welcome news to Citizen Scientists, the people who volunteer their time to be trained in and undertake monitoring for scientific purposes according to Debra Henry, Coordinator of Wildlife Queensland’s Coastal Citizen Science Program. In 2016 Citizen Scientists consisting of college students, corporate teams, indigenous and conservation groups volunteered 300 hours to monitor Moreton Bay’s mangroves using the Shoreline Video Assessment Methodology devised by MangroveWatch Scientists from James Cook University.
“Cr Cumming’s fellow Councillors would be shrewd to realise that mangroves are ‘Mother Nature’s all-rounders’. Amongst their benefits to fisheries as nurseries and climate change mitigation through absorption of carbon, they are also our insurance against the wrath of nature. You just need to reflect on the 2004 tsunami where thirty mangroves per 100 square meters reduced the maximum flow to villages on India’s east coast by more than 90 percent. Closer to home, when ex-Tropical Cyclone Oswald battered the south-east Queensland coast, the value of mangroves for shoreline protection was evident” Debra said.
Wynnum resident Rensche Schep says that mangroves provide recreational, tourism and artistic opportunities. “A painting titled ‘High Tide, Wynnum’ beat 100 finalists in the 2014 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize winning the artist Carol King $50,000 and accolades, while giving posterity a fine piece of art” said Rensche who is both a Citizen Scientist and an artist. “People may think we’ve got plenty of mangroves but it’s important that the mangroves are resilient as there’s lots of pressure on them”.
According to MangroveWatch Scientist Jock Mackenzie “This need not be a situation where it’s either mangroves or no mangroves. We advocate a ‘mangrove garden’ approach which integrates the needs of local residents while recognising the important ecosystem services that mangroves provide. This can be achieved through slope and substrate modification, trimming, thinning, windowing etc and managing the shoreline in much the same way we manage many of our other urban spaces to maximise value for all residents”.
Lota resident and Citizen Scientist Ian who has travelled far and wide along Moreton Bay’s rivers, creeks and foreshores believes the status quo should remain. “The legislation protecting mangroves should be supported and removal of any mangroves should only be sanctioned after strenuous consideration and proof of overwhelming community benefit and support”.
Simon Baltais, Manager of Wildlife Queensland’s Coastal Citizen Science project said we as a community need to be clear about the ecosystem services we value from our coastal environments and what we’re willing to give up for a view of the water. Mangroves are protected plants under the Fisheries Act and regulated by the State, not BCC. And, they’re protected for a reason. We trust Cr Cummings gets the understanding and support of his colleagues”.