Category Archives: Education & communication

Townsville’s environmental awareness-raising ‘Celebrate the Sea’ Festival

Key words: environmental education, science-practice collaboration, marine debris, Clean Up Australia Day, National Seaweek

Carla Hutchinson-Reade

On Clean Up Australia Day 2011, NQ Dry Tropics hosted a new event called Celebrate the Sea Festival in Townsville to promote National Seaweek. The aim of the event was to place a spotlight on the achievements of local environment groups and marine scientists.

Residents were invited to contribute towards creating a more sustainable future on their local beach of Pallarenda in a practical way. The 146 volunteers removed 52 bags of rubbish that were destined to become deadly marine debris. All volunteers of the clean up were rewarded with a free BBQ lunch, educational activities including a bush tucker walk and marine scientist presentations.

Seven experts spoke about sea turtle conservation, our changing climate, wetlands, creating sustainable behaviour changes and permaculture design. The presenters were from organisations including James Cook University, Reef and Rainforest Research Centre and Marine Wildlife Australia. Seven environment groups had displays and ran educational activities for both young and old. Additional awareness was raised through television and radio interviews on the day and NQ Dry Tropics’ events leading up to the Festival. NQ Dry Tropics’ Laura Dunstan spoke about marine debris in four television and three radio interviews.

Children grabbed their chance to hug and talk to three giant mascots including NQ Dry Tropics’ favourite employees, Duey the dugong and Tiny the Tern. Duey asked people to protect their precious seagrass and to slow down and look out for dugongs when boating. Tiny’s concern is protecting precious nests on beaches. Reef HQ’s Lucky T Turtle sold the ‘say no to plastic bags’ message and the ‘4 R’s of rubbish – refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle’.

The Celebrate the Sea Festival inspired and educated residents about marine science and conservation and encouraged environment groups to collaborate and learn collectively. Its success has meant that NQ Dry Tropics is keen to host Celebrate the Sea Festival in 2012.

Donations towards the event were kindly supplied by Bunnings, Ergon Energy, Doug Edes Party Hire, local food suppliers and the environment groups that exhibited including Conservation Volunteers Australia, Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium, Marine Wildlife Australia, Permaculture Townsville, Sea Turtle Foundation, Coastal Dry Tropics Landcare Inc and NQ Fly Fishing.

Contact: Laura Dunstan, Community Support Officer, NQ Dry Tropics, (07) 4724 3544 or email laura.dunstan@nqdrytropics.com.au

Envirotube – Greenstyle’s YouTube channel providing an education and information resource to local communities

Key words: Environmental education, communication, local government, green initiatives

Peter Clarke

GreenStyle is a regional biodiversity and sustainability education and promotion program run by three local councils in the northern Sydney area – Ku-ring-gai,  Hornsby and Willoughby Councils.  One of GreenStyle’s initiatives has been to establish a YouTube channel called Envirotube to distribute relevant video content and so build on the successes of the three Council’s environmental programs.

The rationale for the YouTube channel is that if a picture is worth a 1000 words then a video is a veritable encyclopaedia.  People interested in biodiversity and sustainability are able to get accurate information that can be monitored and updated as facts change. It also promotes Greenstyle, as people doing online searches find Envirotube and then contact us directly.

There is a lot of interest in social media web sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.  These sites are excellent at promoting and delivering targeted information as long as they attract a “critical mass” of traffic.  A trial comparing the well designed and regularly updated website with a duplicate website with the same initial content but without other input showed that regular updates are critical to maintaining traffic. Envirotube to date, for example, has had nearly 50,000 hits and continues to grow, whereas the other channel languishes with only double digit views.

EnviroTube contains links to all of the Councils’ environmental programs and a wide range of videos on Council initiatives. Videos regularly feature local residents’ involvement in positive environmental change. We believe that the Envirotube success has been due to employing a contractor who understood social media and providing a brief to create a popular channel that:

  1. Regularly uploads new video content
  2. Has an active policy of subscription to similar channels, and
  3. Provides prompt replies to viewers’ comments and questions

Envirotube is funded by the NSW Enviromental Trust and videos can be freely accessed here.

Contact: Peter Clarke, Community Volunteer Programs Coordinator, Ku-ring-gai Council, Tel: +61 2 94240 811, Mobile: 0418 277099, Email: clarkep@kmc.nsw.gov.au