Litter was collected from the Overland Track and East Coast beaches, and fauna were surveyed by participants in guided tours as part of the Green Guardians voluntourism program during the past summer.
The litter collection survey took place on the popular Overland Track in Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park and on the Hazards Beach track at Freycinet National Park, Tasmania; the study and collection of marine debris occurred in the Bay of Fires Conservation Area; and the fauna survey was carried out along the Franklin River in the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.
The participating commercial operators who conducted the tours associated with these projects welcomed the idea and were keen to help implement the project. Cradle Mountain Huts Walk guides and participants cleared rubbish from the Overland Track during the summer, collecting 268 pieces of rubbish, including 98 confectionary wrappers/chip packets, 58 metal items, and numerous other bits and pieces. Tasmanian Wilderness Experiences guides and participants cleared rubbish from Freycinet’s Hazards Beach track, logging 120 items, 86 of which were tissues. Water by Nature operate rafting tours down the Franklin River and were able to contribute a useful amount of data towards the fauna survey, which aims to identify which animal species are most likely to be seen along the river. One particular bird which is being sought after in this area is the Tasmanian azure kingfisher, which since 2001 has been listed as an endangered species. Unfortunately, no sightings of this beautiful bird were made as part of the Green Guardians program on the Franklin River.
Several trips to the Bay of Fires Deep Creek area saw guides and participants on the Bay of Fires Lodge Walk collect 264 individual pieces of marine debris, much of it plastic and from shoreline and recreational marine activities.
The data collected from the marine debris project was passed on to the Tangaroa Blue Foundation and Keep Australia Beautiful, who will then use the information to trace the most commonly found items back to their source. Tangaroa Blue then seeks to make changes to the design or use of these items by working with government agencies, and industry, in order to prevent them from ending up as debris on coastlines in future. Project leader, Jen Fry, is pleased by the growth and success of the program. “The Green Guardians program has been a success this year and we look forward to future seasons, helping conservation projects through voluntourism”, she said.
More information on the Green Guardians program can be found here: http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=24210.
Photos provided by The Bay of Fires Lodge Walk.