Located in the heart of Kabi Kabi Country on the Sunshine Coast, the Maroochy River wetlands have always been important sites for learning and passing on knowledge of Country.

In this same spirit, for 30 years volunteers from the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary Support Group have been engaging actively in citizen science programs in an effort to monitor, better understand and care for the wetlands. Times change however, bringing new challenges like climate change and new technologies like smartphones that can enhance and support efficient and effective citizen science programs. 

In September 2020, the Maroochy Wetlands Support Group and Sunshine Coast Council, with funding support from the Australian Government Communities Environment Program, launched Sunshine Coast's first ClimateWatch walking trail. ClimateWatch is a citizen science program that aims to understand phenology - the seasonal behaviour of Australia's plants and animals and how this is affected by changes in temperature and rainfall (e.g. flowering, fruiting, breeding, migration and hibernation). Shifts in phenology are simple indicators for climate change responses in the natural world.

As one of the first continent-wide phenology projects, ClimateWatch is an ambitious program that enables every Australian to be involved in collecting and recording data that will help shape the country's scientific response to climate change. 

Visitors to the Sanctuary can easily participate in ClimateWatch by downloading the free app and submitting photos and seasonal field notes of their observations along the trail. The app contains a field guide with ID photos and tips for what to look for when making field notes. 

While the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary ClimateWatch Trail will provide useful data for Australia's climate scientists, more importantly, it will also encourage community engagement in citizen science and - who knows - it may even provide the inspiration for the next generation of scientists.

Download the free ClimateWatch app.  

Find out about other actions council is taking to proactively respond and adapt to the impacts of climate change.