THE future of the Leschenault Estuary and Inlet could be in the hands of Bunbury residents through a survey on the waterways.
The survey – a first of its kind – could prove vital with researchers highlighting a change in water quality from increasing populations and declining rainfall.
The results will be used to develop a report which will be available to research groups, policy makers and local agencies to guide future actions.
Edith Cowan University heads the survey as researcher associate professor Sandra Wooltorton said people living and working in the vicinity can share their opinions on the estuary and why we should work to protect it.
“Thousands of us use it every weekend and I would love people to show their concern to then have a concerted effort to protect it way into the future,” she said.
“I love the estuary and I love people to value it.
“We need a social basis before decisions are made.”
A home to fish, migratory birds and unique native vegetation, the estuary and inlet also play an important role in the community’s lifestyle.
Dr Wooltorton said the future of the estuary had reached a tipping point with urbanisation and reduced rainfall further compounding the problem.
“The estuary is important to everyone in the community, and we all need to work together to preserve it,” she said.
“I actually do think people care a hell of a lot and I’d like to find out.”
The Leschenault Catch-ment Council is also involved in the Leschenault Project and chairman Mike White-head said the survey was an important step forward.
“Understanding the values that are important to the community will result in better management decisions and targeted investment,” he said.
“I hope everyone will take this opportunity to have their say so that we can work towards maintaining the community values of the estuary for this and future generations.”
To take part in the survey, visit www.les-chenaultproject.org.au
The survey is open to the general public until September 30 with academic reports and publications due for release next year.