Whitsunday Conservation Council member Tony Fontes said World Environment Day was a time for people to recognise how lucky they were to live in the Whitsundays
Whitsunday Conservation Council member Tony Fontes said World Environment Day was a time for people to recognise how lucky they were to live in the Whitsundays

Small actions make big changes on World Environment Day

THE power of small actions in helping create big change has been emphasised by conservation groups across the region in honour of World Environment Day.

Today’s celebration marks a collaboration between the United Nations and organisations across the world with the aim of inspiring positive environmental change.

While coronavirus restrictions have limited the community’s ability to hold events, Whitsunday conservation organisations have encouraged residents to make some time today to consider the world around them.

Whitsunday Conservation Council member Tony Fontes said World Environment Day was a time for people to recognise how lucky they were to live in the Whitsundays.

However, he also encouraged residents to think about how fragile the region’s ecosystems were and what they could do to help preserve nature for generations to come.

“If we all step up then we make a big difference,” he said.

“Use the day to appreciate the kind of environment we have here in Whitsundays … and then recognise that the environment is at risk, at serious risk, because of climate change, plastic, fishing, water pollution and all that kind of stuff.

“And perhaps make a little resolution that this year you’ll do better at protecting the environment.”

Mr Fontes said this resolution could be in the form of personal changes such as using less plastic or on a larger scale through joining a conservation group.

Among conservations groups in the Whitsundays is Eco Barge Clean Seas who have picked up more than 200,000kg of marine debris and litter in the region since 2009.

Eco Barge Clean Seas project co-ordinator Fiona Broadbent and Founding chairperson Libby Edge with some of the many bags of plastic bottles collected from Whitsunday beaches.
Eco Barge Clean Seas project co-ordinator Fiona Broadbent and Founding chairperson Libby Edge with some of the many bags of plastic bottles collected from Whitsunday beaches.

Coronavirus has made it difficult to continue large-scale group clean ups, however founding chairperson of the organisation Libby Edge encouraged residents to take action in their own backyard.

“We all have to play our part to protect the Great Barrier Reef and the environment,” she said.

“I think our locals always take a bag down to the beach and clean up local pathways and beach ways, and today they can take 10 minutes to do the same, even if it’s in their backyard or local area.

“We have to give back to Mother Nature and our planet. It is giving back to us so we can give back to it.”

Mr Fontes also recognised the challenges the pandemic had posed in encouraging group action although hoped the lessons learnt from the last few months could be translated into looking after the environment.

“I think the government has done and incredible job in protecting Australia (from coronavirus) and they’ve shown when push comes to shove, they can do what it takes, and what they did was listen to scientists and medical professionals,” he said.

“We need to remind ourselves as to why we’ve been successful to this point in dealing with pandemic and use that lesson to protect our environment by following the advice of our scientists, but it’s going to take the same type of mountain moving to mitigate climate change as we’ve done to mitigate pandemic.”


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