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Volunteering opportunity in the Daintree

By Earthwatch

‘Blue forests’ the key to species survival on the Great Barrier Reef

Australians are leading global efforts to protect ‘blue forests’ – mangroves that survive in the salty waters fringing the sea.

Manta rays, turtles and sharks are just some of the iconic species that rely on blue forests as habitat and nurseries for their young.

Earthwatch and James Cook University are calling for volunteers to assist scientists in assessing the health of blue forests in the World Heritage Daintree region.

The overall health of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is dependent on healthy blue forests. Filtering pollutants from agriculture and floods and buffering shorelines from damaging erosion and storms, these ‘kidneys of the coast’ are vital to the survival of many iconic species.

Richard Gilmore, Executive Director, Earthwatch says “Blue forests hold the key to keeping our oceans healthy”.

“Australia has one of the world’s largest blue forest areas. With our neighbours in Indonesia, South-East Asia and the Pacific, we have half the world's remaining blue forests right on our doorstep,” he says.

These forests also have high economic value supporting 50% of the world’s fisheries and storing vast amounts of greenhouse gases.

Conserving just 100 hectares of mangroves can have the equivalent carbon benefit of replanting more than 3,000 hectares of dry land forests. Despite their value, mangroves are severely threatened, with less than half remaining worldwide.

The Daintree’s Hidden Coastline expedition runs for 10 days on 25 May and 22 October 2012. Volunteers contribute $2200 covering their accommodation, food, boat costs and a donation to the research.

The information collected by volunteers will be used to inform global management of blue forests.

For more information visit earthwatch.org.au