Indaba a key step towards sustainable development of Gladstone's coastal ecosystems

Published:11 December 2019

Indaba speakers Professor Owen Nevin, Dr Emma Jackson, Dr Chris Gillies, Dr Katherine Dafforn and Gordan Dwane presenting

FROM TOP: Indaba speakers included Professor Owen Nevin, Dr Emma Jackson, Dr Chris Gillies, Dr Katherine Dafforn and Gordan Dwane.

Industry partners, community groups and CQUniversity staff recently converged on the Gladstone Marina campus for the 2019 Regional Indaba event, which highlighted what’s being done to restore coastal ecosystems.

This year's theme was chosen to align with the establishment of the Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre (CMERC) at CQUniversity. The centre provides a multi-faceted, high-profile marine science capability in Central Queensland focusing on the Southern Great Barrier Reef.

CQUniversity Associate Vice-Chancellor (Gladstone Region), Professor Owen Nevin said Indaba speakers shared inspirational stories of large-scale success, practical advice on required action, and a vision of future best-practice in sustainable coastal management.

“The resounding message of the night was that industry, community, researchers, and regulators all want the same outcomes - environmental and economic sustainability in our marine and coastal ecosystems,” he said.

Event participants heard from Oceans Program Lead for The Nature Conservancy, Dr Chris Gillies; Senior Lecturer in Environmental Sciences for Macquarie University Marine Research Centre, Dr Katherina Dafforn; Gladstone Ports Corporation Environmental Manager, Gordon Dwane; and CMERC Interim Director, Dr Emma Jackson.

Dr Gillies inspired the audience with large-scale marine restoration success stories and encouraged that the 'confidence to try things' is the most important ingredient in making positive change.

Meanwhile, Dr Dafforn presented novel approaches to seeing coastal developments as opportunities to create structure and build resilient ecosystems, and engineer habitats to promote native species and deter invasive species, through the Living Sea Walls project.

Mr Dwane told of the proactive options the Gladstone Ports Corporation is exploring for the sustainable management of dredged material, keeping sediment in the system, reducing dredging requirements, and the creation of marine habitat for seagrass and birdlife, which will highlight best practice, globally.

Dr Jackson highlighted how CMERC’s base in Gladstone exemplifies CQUniversity's research agenda of doing research that matters, where it matters.

"Gladstone's unique juxtaposition of industrial development and ecosystem value offers an unparalleled opportunity for CMERC to conduct high-impact research with real-world outcomes which positively impacts the environment and economy," she said.

Prof Nevin said there was some great research being done and CMERC had an important role to play. “Restoration is possible on a large scale and we need to be confident in the application of the best science and engineering to address this going forward,” he said.

“Events like this demonstrate the role of the University within our community in bringing cutting-edge knowledge to the region and promoting the best of what is being done locally.”