Social study to help plan future for reef
A TOTAL of 672 Whitsunday residents, tourists and businesses were asked how they use, relate to and value the Great Barrier Reef as part of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) most extensive social study to date.
Over the next two months CSIRO will be approaching a total of 5000 people from Cooktown to Bundaberg to gain an understanding of what the Great Barrier Reef means to those who live nearby, work around it or visit the area.
CSIRO social scientist Dr Nadine Marshall said it was the first time personal thoughts and feelings about the reef had been comprehensively collected.
“Years of data exist on the economic, ecological and environmental dimensions of the reef and now we’re closing the loop and including the hardest dimension of all – people,” she said.
Survey field team leader Jeremy Goldberg said the response from Airlie Beach was overwhelmingly positive.
“One thing seemed to stand out to me was that most tourists expressed a desire to return to the Great Barrier Reef region in the future which I think speaks highly of their experience in Airlie Beach,” he said.
The findings will provide vital information to reef managers, businesses and government to help them make decisions that reflect the needs of people who interact with the reef.
The questionnaire covers people’s perceptions on marine tourism, tradi- tional owners, ports and shipping, aquaculture, mining, residents and coastal communities.
Results will be announced towards the end of the year when a snapshot of 2013 will be released.
The three year, $2 million study is a collaboration between CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans Flagship, the National Environment Research Program, James Cook University and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
INSIDE SCOOP: CSIRO survey staff member Jacquie Sheils asked Whitsunday resident Craig Devlin a series of questions to gain an understanding of how people use, relate to and value the Great Barrier Reef as part of the Social Economic Long Term Monitoring Program (SELTMP) last fortnight.