Kerry Jones – Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation
Professor Norm Duke – James Cook University
Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation (BBCAC) are descendents from Kabi Kabi and South Sea Islanders who have lived and fished on the waters of the Maroochy and Mooloolah Rivers for many centuries.
Dr Norm Duke (MSc, PhD), mangrove ecologist specialises in global mangrove floristics, biogeography, climate change impacts, vegetation mapping, pollution damage, restoration ecology and habitat condition assessment. Over the last 49 years, his workplaces included Queensland Fisheries, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, and the University of Queensland. Norm currently leads an active research group on marine tidal wetlands at James Cook University (JCU). He has authored more than 300 research articles and technical reports, including his authoritative popular book ‘Australia’s mangroves’, along with two mangrove identification apps. One of Norm’s on-going achievements is the discovery and naming of 9 of the world’s 80 mangrove plant species. Over the last 3 years, Norm has led Australian National Environmental Science Program investigations into the 2015 catastrophic mass dieback of mangroves in Australia’s Gulf of Carpentaria. All his recent projects and community engagements have involved close collaboration with, and the training of, Traditional Owner rangers as well as many community volunteers.
Ten years ago, BBCAC started trialling propagation and planting of mangrove seedlings with support from Sunshine Coast Council and SEQ Catchments to establish a mangrove nursery in the tidal waters of their land at Bli Bli. The riverbank was being eroded by boatwash, and the mangroves were a way to stabilise the banks and build more fish habitat. Since then, BBCAC members have developed extensive knowledge and skills on mangrove species, seasonality, planting media and practices, and have undertaken many projects along the Maroochy River and Pumicestone Passage. Professor Norm Duke from MangroveWatch and James Cook University, a world expert in mangrove plant identification and forest ecology, provided added guidance on mangrove nursery techniques and how to choose mangrove species for maximal management outcomes.
For the TS Onslow Shoreline Management Project at Golden Beach, BBCAC collected low-growing red or stilted mangrove (Rhizophora stylosa) seeds from Bells Creek under permit, propagated them at their nursery and planted at least 900 seedlings at the site over the past 5 years. With considerable damage caused by vandalism, continual enrichment planting is underway and some mangroves are now well established. Professor Norm Duke designed and directed the installation of a novel fish-scale shaped soil stabilisation system using coir logs for the establishment of highly beneficial living shoreline mangrove gardens as the essential contributors to threatened tidal wetlands – the often unsung natural guardians of our fragile coast.