Port Curtis & the Southern GBR Coast

2018_MW TO cap1

We have two key projects in the Gladstone area including: Port Curtis Port Alma (PCPA) and Southern Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Coastal Habitat Archive and Monitoring Programs (CHAMPs.)  In each project, we partner with Gidarjil Development Corporation to assist and collaborate with their Aboriginal Land and Sea Rangers.

Gidarjil RangersMW Team Kolan RXX

Group Support Base

Group Goal

Briefly, our program proposed was to complete the five components listed in the project scope of works for the Port Curtis and Port Alma area, as:

1.     High resolution maps of tidal wetlands, plus historical assessment (change detection);

2.     Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) mapping of tidal wetlands;

3.     Shoreline condition monitoring using oblique aerial image data acquisition;

4.     Shoreline condition monitoring using boat based video image data acquisition and community volunteers; and

5.     Public access and data entry portal for display of current and past mapping.

The integration of these components is critical to the success of the entire program. All efforts have been made to ensure each component is connected with each other component. This effort started with the project team, and also involves the methodologies applied, as well as the central archive database with it central and integrative role. Works are based on the mapping framework produced, using the latest technologies and innovations in remote sensing imagery and assessment techniques.

To successfully complete these tasks, the program is chiefly lead by science specialists in tidal wetlands, who have been characterising shoreline environmental values for the Port Curtis and Port Alma area. This is being achieved through the implementation of the Shoreline Video Assessment Method (S-VAM) along with the integrated monitoring and archiving program, bringing together partners in field research, remote sensing, IT and teaching skills.

The full project is considered to be an important opportunity to achieve world best practice for compilation and dissemination of data and expert advice gathered from field surveys and meetings with key stakeholders from industry, government, universities and with indigenous rangers and community volunteers. The planned outcomes will be a comprehensive baseline assessment of ecological condition and health for the region (building on prior surveys like Duke et al. 2003; 2005). The public archive created in this project is intended for future use; being a tangible, permanent resource for regional managers, industry stakeholders and community members wishing to maximise conservation benefits while maintaining environmentally appropriate coastal development works.

The program is planned to educate communities and to raise public awareness of coastal tidal wetlands as beneficial vital environments that are also convenient indicators of the environmental health of coasts and estuaries. By assisting in the monitoring of such fragile ecosystems, human communities can contribute not only to the preservation of coastal nursery habitat and coastal shoreline buffering from erosion and deposition, but also towards the protection of highly-prized, neighbouring coastal habitats, like seagrass meadows and coral reefs.

The Team

While JCU’s  TropWATER is lead agent for the purposes of contracting with GPC, we are collaborating with the following organisations through individual sub-contracting/partnership arrangements, as appropriate:

a.     Gidarjil Development Corporation indigenous Sea Rangers along with community volunteers in the Gladstone region, are assisting in the monitoring and assessment of coastal tidal wetland habitats (Component 4 chiefly, plus 3);

b.     Collaboration with Prof John Kovacs of Nipissing University, Canada, for dedicated remote sensing assessments and mapping of tidal wetland habitats in the region (Components 1 & 2 primarily, plus using 4 for opportunities in ground truth and data validation);

c.     Partnership with Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation and the JCU e-Research Centre for the development and implementation of the planned online facility (Component 5 primarily, plus all other components eventually).


The methods used in these surveys are geo-referenced videography. All imagery is collected by either indigenous rangers or by community volunteers. All participants are trained by the project team. In the study area, the indigenous rangers are already trained and operationally ready to conduct surveys in the study area. Processing of image data collected by community members is assessed by the project team at the Mangrove Hub at JCU TropWATER. Data taken from imagery and from survey diaries are used to visualise and describe coastlines, to make ecological assessments of shoreline composition, status and condition.

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The methodology that will be employed is:

1.     Collect source video and still imagery taken laterally from small boats around 50 m distance to shoreward margins. Filming will be undertaken such that it covers continuous shorelines of specific sections of estuarine areas and embayments. The intent of the project team is to cover all seaward margins in the study area, but limitations of funding dictate that only about 200 km of shoreline will be filmed and assessed. Ideally, the extent of shorelines filmed will include continuous coverage of most mainland and island shorelines (as mangrove seaward margins mostly, but not restricted to them) in the study area. Attention will be made of specific sections of the coastline as will be determined in meetings with the GPCL, the project team and the Gidarjil Rangers.

2.     Training has been given to the Gidarjil Rangers by the MangroveWatch project team in 2012-13 to specifically develop their skill base for the effective, independant gathering of imagery and other data for development of shoreline profiles relevant to this scope of work.

3.     The project team would prefer to make annual temporal coverages, but the extent of work will be determined fully, as soon as possible after commencement of the project. There is sufficient funding support in the budget proposed to make at least 3 surveys during the 6 project years working with the Gidarjil Rangers with surveys in at least three time periods around 2014, 2016 and 2018. To fill the gaps and enhance the existing program, a number of strategies will be employed: 1) additional funds will be sought with appropriate grant applications to further employ Gidarjil Rangers; and 2) community volunteers will be enlisted and trained. In this way, additional time periods will be assessed, depending on the level of interest shown by community volunteers for additional shoreline coverage and filling time gaps (notably years 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020). Community volunteer engagement will be facilitated by our budgeted support of a community coordinator position for one day per week each year until 2020.

4.     The choice of days for boat surveys will be determined by the suitability of weather conditions, the time of day, coupled with periods of relatively low to mid tide.

5.     Initial records will represent baseline conditions. Subsequent records will provide the means to measure differences from baseline. Project observations will describe occurrences of habitat type, condition and change; specifically noting: specific vegetative conditions, like species type, biomass, dieback condition, presence of plant mutations, notable erosion, root/bank exposure, sediment deposition, presence of seedlings, and seasonal changes along with verified combinations of species present in each habitat assemblage.

6.     These findings will provide backup and support for Component 4.

7.     As part of this component, field surveys will be conducted in early 2015 and early 2017 to provide specific ground truth to support the mapping and remote sensing (Components 1 and 2), plus each of the videographic surveys (this Component and Component 3). Information gathered will include confirmation of habitat structure, biodiversity, condition, presence of fauna, and soil character.

8.     The information from video tracks and sites will be mapped based on background maps developed in Components 1 and 2. These will be uploaded and displayed on the dedicated, online public access website and data entry portal under Component 5, combining historical and current information on the condition of mangrove and tidal wetland vegetative communities in the region.

9.     The community coordinator position and office location in Gladstone is considered an important role for the delivery of this component outcomes. The position will be funded from the project at one day per week. The positions work role will be to coordinate community engagement in all MangroveWatch activities combining contributions from the Gidarjil Rangers along with community volunteers and school students. With this, the Gidarjil Rangers are working with the Boyne Island Environmental Education Centre (BIEEC) for collaboration in MangroveWatch surveys. This involves boat support used with project surveys. An additional role of the Coordinator will be to organize community workshops, training sessions, plus outreach activities, like MangroveWatch art gallery shows.

Get More Information

Contact: mangrovewatch@gmail.com