Lights out for the Great Barrier Reef
With this year being hailed as the International Year of the Reef, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is thrilled to see strong local support for the World Wildlife Fund's international climate initiative, Earth Hour.
GBRMPA Chairman Russell Reichelt said Earth Hour was a great way of raising awareness about the issue of climate change, which is now widely recognised as the single greatest threat to coral reefs worldwide.
"We have heard about some fantastic things that people in the Great Barrier Reef catchment area are doing not just for Earth Hour but throughout the year to reduce their climate footprint."
Many passionate individuals, schools and businesses have notified the GBRMPA about their intention to participate in Earth Hour and their longer term plans to help protect the Great Barrier Reef.
For example, Reef Guardian Schools throughout Queensland are learning about climate change and taking action to help protect the Reef by making their schools more sustainable.
Although Earth Hour occurs outside of school hours, Thuringowa State High School (a Reef Guardian School) in Townsville, found a way to support the cause at school by spelling out Earth Hour using students and staff.
Many of the GBRMPA's Reef Guardian Councils are encouraging their staff to participate in Earth Hour and are working towards reducing their ecological footprints to help protect the Reef by improving land, waste, and water management and by involving their local communities in environmental programs.
"We have heard about a residential apartment complex hosting a candlelit barbeque, tourism operators who will be switching off the lights on their boats during Earth Hour, an operator who has a carbon neutral dive program, people who are replacing their old appliances with more energy efficient ones, and even a completely solar powered house," Mr Reichelt said.
"Lady Elliot Island Resort in the southern Great Barrier Reef and the ranger station on Low Isles Island in the north will be making sure the lights are out on the Reef during Earth Hour.
"Both islands are aiming to be climate neutral by 2020 and have staged renewable energy projects underway.
"These initiatives are exciting and really showcase how individuals and businesses are making a positive impact on the environment."
Individuals, businesses and community groups can register their commitment on the Earth Hour website http://www.earthhour.org/
To find out about other ways in which you can help protect the Great Barrier Reef or to share ideas about your own initiatives, contact the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on (07) 4750 0603.