08 Nov Emily Saeck
In her role as Senior Scientist at Healthy Land and Water, Dr Emily Saeck monitors social benefits, human health and waterway condition in South East Queensland. This research and data contributes to the annual Healthy Land and Water Report Card. Dr Saeck has almost 15 years experience in marine science and currently holds an adjunct research fellow position at Griffith University.
Loving Our Waterways Too Much? Monitoring Waterway Condition And Social Benefits In South East Queensland
People move and travel to coastal regions seeking out beautiful natural waterways to live near and recreate on. However this creates a paradoxical effect, where increasing development to accommodate increasing population is associated with land clearing, which increases pollutant loads and pressure on our river and coastal water quality and the ecosystems they support. The South East Queensland Waterways Report Card has been monitoring changes in local waterway condition for 15 years and importantly communicates this to the public every year. But knowing there is a problem is only the first step. Residents need to be strong stewards for waterway protection. Educational psychology theory suggests that for people to behave in ways that support the protection of waterways, they need to be both cognitively engaged (i.e. have enough information) and emotionally engaged (i.e. care enough). Surveying more than 3200 residents across SEQ each year, this monitoring program has found that residents’ emotional engagement varies across the regions, with local water quality and environmental condition as a strong predictor of engagement. This raises the issue of a negative feedback loop – as water quality declines in response to population growth, people care less and do less. If we are to protect and restore waterways into future, we need to find approaches to improve stewardship in the face of increasing population pressure and associated declines in water quality.