The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland - More Information


More information

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef ecosystem on earth and one of the best managed marine areas in the world. At 348 000 square kilometres, the reef is one of the richest and most diverse natural ecosystems on Earth. The unique qualities of this property were recognised in 1981 when it was inscribed on the World Heritage List.

World Heritage Committee decisions

Australia is committed to ensuring the Great Barrier Reef retains the values for which it received its world heritage listing.

The World Heritage Committee has considered the state of conservation of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area at its last three sessions.

In its decisions, the Committee has requested that the Australian Government undertake a range of measures to ensure that the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is not compromised.

The full decisions of the World Heritage Committee are available on the UNESCO web site:

In each of the recent Committee decisions Australia was requested to provide the Committee with a State Party Report on the state of conservation of the reef.

State Party Reports

Australia has been working hard to address the issues raised in the Committee's decisions and the recommendations of the joint monitoring mission that visited the reef in March 2012.

On 1 February 2012, 1 February 2013 and 31 January 2014, Australia submitted detailed State Party Reports to the Committee outlining:

  • the nature of the threats to the reef
  • what the Australian Government is doing to improve the resilience of the reef, and
  • how the Outstanding Universal Value of the property is being managed and protected.

The reports demonstrate Australia's progress on a wide range of work including the Great Barrier Reef comprehensive strategic assessment, development of the North-East shipping plan as well as important research projects and ongoing adaptive management activities.

The 2014 State Party Report will be considered by the World Heritage Committee at its 38th session in Doha, Qatar from 15-25 June 2014.

Independent Review of the Port of Gladstone

As part of the Australian Government's response to the 2012 decision of the World Heritage Committee regarding the ongoing protection and management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage property, the Australian Government commissioned an Independent Review of the Port of Gladstone.

Strategic Assessment

Many of the Committee's recommendations will also be addressed through the comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef and adjacent coastal zone which is being undertaken by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Government.

The strategic assessment will ensure the continued long term protection of the unique environment and heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and also ensure that development within and adjacent to the World Heritage Area is sustainable.

The Queensland Government and the GBRMPA are currently seeking public comment on the draft strategic assessment documentation.

For more information see:

Joint monitoring mission

In March 2012 a joint monitoring mission made up of representatives from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre (WHC) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) visited a number of locations within the Great Barrier Reef. They met with a broad range of stakeholders including government, industry and non-government organisation representatives and Traditional Owners. The brief was to assess the state of conservation of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Reporting to the World Heritage Centre

On 31 October 2011, the department notified the World Heritage Centre of all proposed developments being assessed as Controlled Actions for potential impacts on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) (EPBC Act):

The department has since developed an agreed administrative procedure to notify the World Heritage Centre on a regular basis of proposed developments in all of Australia's world heritage areas: