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Blue Heart: how the Maroochy River catchment could be part of the solution to climate change

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A project to restore and protect the Maroochy River catchment as a solution to climate change has received a major grant.

The Blue Heart project received $2 million from the Federal Government’s Blue Carbon Ecosystem Restoration Grants.

The project aims to transition the Maroochy floodplain from its former uses as cane farms and other rural activities back to natural estuarine systems.

The 5,000 hectare catchment would then become an important area for sequestering “blue carbon” from the atmosphere and oceans.

Blue Carbon is carbon that is stored in marine and coastal ecosystems that are healthy.

But when the ecosystems are degraded or destroyed, the blue carbon is released and contributes to climate change.

If the Maroochy River is healthy, it can be part of the solution to climate change.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said the Blue Heart project was one of five successful Blue Carbon restoration projects across Australia.

The project was launched in 2019 as a partnership between Sunshine Coast Council, Unity Water and the State Government.

“Our Blue Heart will contribute to further progressing our collective understanding of Blue Carbon ecosystems and the benefits they provide to biodiversity, fishing, water quality, recreation and coastal protection,” said Mayor Jamieson.

“As Blue Carbon ‘farming’ is a potential economic opportunity for Blue Heart private landholders, the grant funding provides a timely opportunity to demonstrate Blue Carbon restoration and the associated benefits.

“The Blue Heart is another way council is planning and taking action in response to climate change as the Blue Heart project area will be further impacted by sea level rise, which was identified in the development of our Coastal Hazard Adaptation Strategy.

“It’s a crucial aspect of achieving our vision of Australia’s most sustainable region – healthy, smart, creative.”

Sunshine Coast Council Environment and Liveability Portfolio Councillor Maria Suarez said the funding was a great encouragement to the project and reinforced just how important the Blue Heart was to our region as one of our major green spaces.

“The project to restore Blue Carbon ecosystems on public land in the northern section of the Blue Heart will be implemented over the next four years (2022-2025) with a focus on restoring degraded or destroyed Blue Carbon ecosystems,” Cr Suarez said.

“Council plans to do this by implementing various ecosystem restoration activities, including introducing tidal waters onto selected public lands and work with nature as it transitions from former canelands to Blue Carbon ecosystems.

“We’ll now be able to implement this across a larger space due to our most recent Blue Heart land acquisition along River Road, Maroochy River, extending council’s conservation footprint across the Sunshine Coast.”

For more information and updates on Blue Heart Sunshine Coast, visit sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/blueheart.

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