Southern Cross graduate drives community mapping project of Brunswick River
A charity founded by Southern Cross graduate Karl Goodsell has completed a mapping project of the Brunswick river system that includes an interactive platform to raise awareness about the health of local waterways.
“Rivers were devastated by the recent floods but local waterways are also responsible for the rich agriculture and ecological beauty of the region. If we are to live alongside these dynamic, shifting systems, it is vital that we better understand them, and help strengthen their natural resilience,” said Karl, founder of the Positive Change for Marine Life (PCFML) charity.
From stakeholder and partner meetings to on-river sampling and mapping, PCFML staff, volunteers and key partners worked for more than 12 months on the mapping project.
14 kayak-based surveys of the river banks were undertaken, mapping erosion, access points and native and exotic vegetation. Water sampling and marine debris hotspots were also monitored and included in the mapping.
The Brunswick River Warriors Storymap is the product of this work and provides an interactive online map of the ecological health of the waterway. It highlights the many threats that the river faces, as well as solutions. Wetlands and Coastal Programs Coordinator for PCFML in Australia, Dane Marx, said the Storymap was an excellent example of a community-led conservation project. “It provides a platform for local community members to better understand the factors affecting their waterway, and how they can come together to be a part of a healthy future for the Bruns,” he said.
Collaboration and data-sharing project partners included NSW DPI Fisheries, Byron Shire Council and Brunswick Valley Landcare. The platform includes an online tool that allows anyone from the community to upload photos and information on issues along the river in real-time, using GPS data.
“Our 12 months of research has now provided a platform for an exciting new community-based restoration project which will commence in the latter half of 2022,” said Dane. “We are excited to keep the community in the loop and will be launching our results at a public event in the coming months”, he said.
Karl has fond memories of his time at Southern Cross and says it influenced the development of PCFML, a charity with active programs in Australia, India and the Solomon Islands. “Studying a marine science degree at Southern Cross University opened up a whole new world of opportunities for me and further grew my passion for the ocean and the communities who rely on it,” he said. “From field trips identifying species in intertidal habitats to hearing from those for and against the construction of rock walls in the Byron Shire, the degree gave me the knowledge and skills needed to take on some of the pressing challenges facing our ocean and develop real-world solutions through our now internationally-focused charity,” he said.