LOCAL WATERWAYS GO UNDER THE ‘CITIZEN SCIENTIST’ MICROSCOPE

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Everyday people will be trained as “citizen scientists” to keep an eye on their local environment and promote behaviour changes.

The Federal Government is funding a Nambour-based environment group to roll out education programs across South-East Queensland.

Member for Fairfax Ted O’Brien today announced a $50,000 grant for not-for-profit organisation ECOllaboration under the National Landcare Program’s Environment Small Grants.

The Coalition invested $5million in small grants to support projects around Australia that protect water, plants, animals and ecosystems in partnership with local communities.

Mr O’Brien said ECOllaboration would host workshops and programs to enlighten the general public on environmental issues in their area with a view to encouraging them to take action.

The grant would also fund a school-based program to take children out of the classroom on excursions linked to the curriculum.

“This program ensures we have the eyes of the community on the local environment and looking after creeks, rivers, habitats and landscapes,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Local people can attend these sessions and learn environmental skills. They will be able to monitor the health and biodiversity of ecosystems and take action when necessary.

“This approach works from the ground up and ensures people are aware of issues concerning their local environment.”

ECOllaboration CEO Cerran Fawns said the aim was to upskill about 600 people across the south-east to be environmental “citizen scientists” in their district.

“The types of programs we will offer could include water quality workshops, or eco-safari day tours to certain areas such as landslips or erosion sites,” Ms Fawns said.

“We want to reach out to people who have an interest in the environment so they can understand the impact we have and how to reverse that.

“It has been our experience that experiential learning – where people actually go out and see things with their own eyes – is how to change behaviour.

“It’s all well and good to hand out pamphlets but to see it first hand – to see the weeds, to see the water quality, to understand the processes – is the way to get good education outcomes.”

The programs are due to start in November and will be conducted over a year.

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