5 June 2020 #WorldEnvironmentDay

Our newest partnership funded by Coca-Cola Australia Foundation will deliver a first-of-its-kind marine pollution and wetland management program in the Lower Gulf of Carpentaria.

Together with Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation (CLCAC) and recycling experts Plastic Collective, Earthwatch will train 20 CLCAC Indigenous Land and Environment Rangers and 30 community volunteers to help deliver the Wetlands not Wastelands program over the next three years.

Driven by science and delivered by the local community, this program will trial a sustainable, community-based solution to managing and recycling marine pollution in remote regions.

Once this model is proven, it could potentially be replicated in many other regional and remote locations in Australia and around the world.

Pollution is a key threat to the vast wetland system of the Lower Gulf of Carpentaria, which has little to no recycling infrastructure and has been a hotspot for seasonal tourism.

The area is home to thousands of unique species adversely affected by marine pollution including dugongs, sea turtles, migratory shorebirds and important mangrove and salt marsh wetlands that play a significant role in sequestering carbon.

The Wetlands not Wastelands program allows us to work directly with the CLCAC Rangers to develop a marine pollution management plan and a report card for future action to conserve this region’s precious habitat.

We will introduce two Shruders, or plastic recycling machines, into the communities of Burketown and Normanton. Plastic Collective will train the Rangers to use the Shruders to turn plastic waste into valuable commercial products, creating a social enterprise that further supports the local community.

The program will span hundreds of kilometres of the expansive Gulf region, from the Northern Territory border in the west, to the Staaten River on Cape York in the east, and will also enlist the support of 30 local volunteers who will be virtually-trained in citizen science methods to increase the scale of the program.