The Reef Check approach offers benefits beyond the data. Our projects provide a platform for many types of people and organisations to collaborate to inform and engage local communities in understanding, appreciating and acting on reef health issues.
In addition to data collection, an important part of the citizen science cycle is to communicate results to participants and the broader public to provide opportunities for engagement in science literacy and conservation. There is increasing recognition of the importance of building active community support for conservation activities. For example:
- A key target of the Australian Biodiversity Strategy is increasing the number of Australians participating in biodiversity conservation (Natural Research Management Ministerial Council, 2010).
- The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals promote greater community participation in decision making, and incorporate targets requiring active community support (United Nations, 2015).
- The Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan (Commonwealth of Australia 2015) aims to strengthen programs to
understand and promote the reef’s values, threats, and how community members can play a role in protecting the reef.
As part of the Reef Check approach, course participants, surveyor, project partners and the wider community have opportunities to become informed, engaged and empowered to actively participate in protecting reef health.
A key strategy in expanding our reach with science and conservation messages is the Reef Ambassador program, training community outreach volunteers to inspire understanding, appreciation and positive grassroots action in their communities.