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First Indigenous council welcomed into Reef Guardian program

A far north Queensland Indigenous community is the latest local government area to formally express their support for the Great Barrier Reef.

Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council — between the Cook and Douglas shires — joins 17 other local governments in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian Council program.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chairman Russell Reichelt is delighted the Wujal Wujal community is dedicated to strengthening efforts to build resilience of the Reef.

“We value working with Traditional Owners in managing the Great Barrier Reef and are delighted Wujal Wujal Council are now part of our Reef Guardian program,” he said.

“The Wujal Wujal community is doing excellent work in water quality monitoring and upgrading their water treatment plant along with reef-related community engagement activities.

“We recognise that building the Reef’s resilience requires a coordinated effort from industries, communities and all levels of government — working with local councils is key to encouraging and facilitating region-specific engagement for Reef stewardship.”

Wujal Wujal Mayor Desmond Tayley and staff showcased their unique land-to-sea initiatives to a recent annual Reef Guardian Council Steering Committee meeting attended by local government representatives.

“Everyone made us feel welcome and I think there is a lot we can learn from each other,” Cr Tayley said.

“Our culture aligns well with the Reef Guardian philosophy of hands-on, community action to help the Great Barrier Reef. We want to do everything we can to help preserve the Reef for future generations.”

Wujal Wujal council’s sign-up to the program takes the total of Reef Guardian councils to 18 — representing 60 per cent of the Reef catchment, one million people, and 300,000 km2 between Bundaberg and Cooktown.

The first step for the Wujal Wujal Council will be to develop a 12-month action plan to identify activities already undertaken and new activities they can work on to promote and protect the health of the Reef.

With the assistance of Marine Park Authority staff, the Wujal Wujal Council will consider land, water and waste management, community education, and climate change as key focus areas.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian Council program began in 2007 fostering environmental stewardship, both within councils themselves and among the general community.

It has evolved as a collaborative partnership between mayors, council officers and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.