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IWC students work on catchment and aquatic ecosystem health in Gladstone

Full-time and part-time Masters students have just participated in a ten-day field trip to Gladstone (Central Queensland), as part of the Catchment and Aquatic Ecosystem Health module. The trip allowed the students to experience first-hand some of the monitoring and management activities underway to preserve aquatic ecosystem health in the region.

Gladstone, home to Queensland's largest multi-commodity port, is an area of significant economic growth in Australia. Much of the development in the region is related to mining, with raw commodities exported and imported into Gladstone. Recent developments such as expansion of the port facilities, and corresponding issues of the health of the harbour, have attracted significant attention politically and within the community over the past few years.

IWC students were accommodated at Boyne Island Environmental Education Centre. Through harbour and site tours, they met with local stakeholders involved in the management and monitoring of development in the region. These tours provided local context to the module's lecture content – understanding catchment and receiving water disturbances and the consequences for aquatic ecosystem health.

Guest presenters came from range of backgrounds and roles within the region, spanning Gladstone Regional Council, Gladstone Ports Corporation, Central Queensland University, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Gladstone Area Water Board, Infofish, Fitzroy Basin Authority, Fitzroy River and Coastal Catchments Inc, Calliope catchment sites, and Gladstone Healthy Harbours Partnership.

Dayjil Fincham, part-time student said, "Gladstone is a thriving hub of industry, agriculture, community and the environment which made it the perfect setting to gain an understanding of a management system trying to integrate these aspects in a balanced manner. The trip allowed us to observe the pressures on the system and talk to many of the stakeholders involved. The amazingly diverse and fun cohort of part-timers, full-timers and teaching staff made for an enjoyable 10 days."

Problem-Based Learning Project (PBL)

The Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership (GHHP) has been developing an ecosystem health report card to report against the Gladstone Healthy Harbour Vision. While tools like the Report Card form part of integration processes in water management, to be used they need to be both useful and usable from the perspective of the intended users.

Based on this, the IWC Masters students conducted a problem-based learning project (PBL) on implementing and using report card systems for managing ecosystem health across multiple stakeholder groups. They worked in teams to interview and survey potential users for the Report Card in and around Gladstone, then each student produced a report characterising how the Report Card is likely to be used by the different users, and providing recommendations to GHHP for strategies to improve uptake and use of the Report Card.

"Recommendations made by students will inform the range of activities that the GHHP instigates in order to build the knowledge, attitudes, skills and aspirations for a healthy harbour which will be necessary for the successful adoption and use of the Report Card", said Dr Brian McIntosh, IWC Senior Lecturer and Education Program Manager.

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Catchment and Aquatic Ecosystem Health module

The Catchment and Aquatic Ecosystem Health module provides participants with an in-depth understanding of the issues and challenges relating to the sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems. The study of aquatic ecosystem health is a relatively new field that brings together biophysical understandings of how natural systems function with societal goals and human values. A major challenge for society is to satisfy the growing demands for water without degrading aquatic ecosystems and the ecological goods and services they provide.

IWC Master of Integrated Water Management

The IWC Masters program creates water leaders by drawing on international teaching and research from many fields to provide a transdisciplinary, whole-of-water-cycle approach to water management.


Scholarships for the next intake of the IWC Master of Integrated Water Management remain open until 1 October for domestic candidates (however applications are now closed for international candidates).


IWC Masters Scholarships



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