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Future Leaders Protect Inshore Biodiversity in Ingham

20120820 FLECStudents from Reef Guardian Schools in Ingham and Cardwell are being enlisted to protect plants, animals and habitats near the shoreline of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

More than 45 students from four schools will take part in the day-long Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's 2012 Future Leaders Eco Challenge which includes hands-on activities and field trips.

GBRMPA Reef Guardian Schools Acting Program Manager, Carolyn Luder, said students will learn how the coastal, marine and Reef catchment areas are interconnected and reliant on one another to function. "Inshore ecosystems cover about 10 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef and are made up of a diverse range of habitats including seagrass meadows, salt marshes, mangroves, estuaries and beaches," she said. "Some of these habitats and species may not be part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area but they are interconnected and vital to the health of the Reef. These areas are under a lot of pressure from a range of impacts including coastal development and declining water quality, so it's important students understand the need for long-term protection of these habitats."

Terrain NRM's Hinchinbrook Catchments Partnership Coordinator Jacqui Richards said she was pleased to support the event. "It's great to see student leaders of tomorrow working with local partners to promote sustainable living," Ms Richards said. "This event provides valuable and relevant learning experiences because it's being held in their local area where they can focus on environmental challenges for their region."

Other local partners supporting the Future Leaders Eco Challenge are Tangaroa Blue, Girringun Aboriginal Corporation (Cardwell Indigenous Rangers Unit), Museum of Tropical Queensland and Herbert River Cane Productivity Services. Sucrogen will also donate a worm farm to one of the participating schools.

Reef Guardian Schools is an environmental education program run by GBRMPA. For further information, visit www.gbrmpa.gov.au.