Urban communities make up over 75 per cent of our region’s population. It is important that they have opportunities to connect with their surrounding natural environment and understand how lifestyle and purchasing decisions impact on natural resources and surrounding rural areas. This can be achieved in many ways, including:
- providing public natural environmental areas;
- maintaining or reestablishing connectivity between important core habitat areas;
- carefully using resources, including adopting domestic water efficiency practices in the home and garden (such as water-saving devices);
- planting native and habitat-promoting garden plant species; and
- reducing pollution and litter from urban areas entering surrounding natural environments and impacting native species.
Active urban landcare initiatives focusing on biodiversity include protecting and revegetating habitat and riparian corridors, and improving water quality flowing into wetlands and the GBR. Other initiatives that focus on sustainable urban lifestyles include James Cook University’s ‘TropEco’ programme for students and staff, Townsville’s Permaculture group, and ‘Food for Thought’, which shares information on our food choices from a sustainability perspective. People who reside in the region’s urban areas may also be involved in the rural industry and NRM research, policy development, administration and financing.
A number of local councils have agreed to work together to improve the health and resilience of the GBR by joining the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s ‘Reef Guardian Councils’ programme, which includes initiatives for urban water, waste and land management, climate change, community education and capacity building. Additionally, a number of urban businesses, schools and fishing operations also participate in the ‘Reef Guardians’ awareness programme.