The Coca-Cola Australia Foundation (CCAF) and Earthwatch Australia are teaming up to deliver a first-of-its-kind marine pollution and wetland management program in the Lower Gulf of Carpentaria.
The $600,000 partnership will help address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 ‘Life Below Water’.
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,” explains Chair of CCAF, Malcolm Hudson.
“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 hotspot for seasonal tourism.
Additionally, the area is home to thousands of unique species including dugongs, sea turtles, migratory shorebirds and important mangrove and salt marsh wetlands that play a significant role in sequestering carbon.
CEO of Earthwatch Australia, Cassandra Nichols says, “Thanks to this generous grant from Coca-Cola Australia Foundation, ‘Wetlands not Wastelands’ will come to life and allow 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 also be able to introduce two Plastic Collective Shruders, or plastic recycling machines, into the communities of Burketown and Normanton,” explains Ms Nichols.
CLCAC Director and Traditional Owner, Murrandoo Yanner adds, “From time immemorial, the Indigenous People of the Lower Gulf of Carpentaria have managed and cared for the pristine environment of the land, sea, waterways and wetlands in our region.
“Thanks to this exciting new partnership with Earthwatch and Plastic and Collective and the generous support from Coca-Cola Australia Foundation, we can continue to do so in an even more efficient way.”
The new grant is part of the CCAF’s flagship round of funding, bringing the total number of funds donated via its charity grant programs to over $15 million since 2002.