Capricorn Coast Landcare Group successfully applied for a Community Sustainability Action Grant from the Queensland State Government to coordinate a series of litter cleanups in Yeppoon's mangrove ecosystems throughout 2017-2018.
The mangroves in Fig Tree and Ross Creeks in the centre of Yeppoon, were struggling with a heavy load of litter and downstream pollution following cyclones, floods, king tides, and general human laziness.
Their normal ecosystem functions were becoming severely impeded: filtering sediments and pollutants, acting as fish hatcheries, essential habitat for diverse species including our iconic flying fox colony, erosion control, buffer system from storm surge/high tides.
Their prop roots were entangled with netting, fishing line, shreds of plastic garden sheeting, and enough plastic packaging and strapping to encircle Australia. High tides had pushed massive amounts of garbage into far corners and with no regular flushing, cans, glass and plastic had piled up. This was suffocating breathing roots and creating a very anaerobic environment.
Discarded oil cans and chemical containers had leached their contents, and over time, people had intentionally dumped shopping trolleys, old computers, bedding, clothing and every kind of household object into the ecosystem.
We drew up a plan of action to target rubbish in several key areas. Our primary focus was to involve the community to increase awareness about the impacts of pollution, change behaviour particularly about fast food wrapping and plastics, the value of 'rethink, reduce, reuse, recycle', and to enhance community pride in our natural places.
The project has removed well in excess of 1000Kg of rubbish from our mangroves and involved about 100 volunteers over nine months.