Great Barrier Reef Comprehensive Strategic Assessment

The Australian Government and the Queensland Government have formally agreed to undertake a comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and adjacent coastal zone. This strategic assessment is being undertaken in accordance with section 146 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

The comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef has two key components - a marine component and a coastal component. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is leading the marine component which will look at the arrangements in place to manage and protect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area. The Queensland Government is leading the coastal component which will look at coastal development such as planning for urban, industrial and port development.

Strategic assessments enable a landscape-scale approach to environment and heritage protection that provides certainty in the long term, by determining the areas to be protected from development and areas where sustainable development can go, the type of development that will be allowed and the conditions under which development may proceed.

About the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland coastal zone

At 348 000 square kilometres and extending over 2300 kilometres along the Queensland coast, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the richest and most diverse natural ecosystems on Earth.

As well as being a natural wonder, the Great Barrier Reef is also a multiple-use area that supports a wide range of activities, including commercial fishing, tourism and recreation, with communities along the Great Barrier Reef benefiting greatly from these activities. The Great Barrier Reef contributes over $5.6 billion to the Australian economy and generates almost 70,000 jobs. The Queensland coastal zone also supports significant economic activity and a fast growing population.

The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is under increasing pressure from a range of threats, including climate change, catchment water quality, direct use and development in the Queensland coastal zone. It is critical that development and other activities that affect the property are well planned and managed to ensure its long-term protection. The Australian Government is committed to sustainable development that ensures the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef is not compromised.

Sustainable Regional Development program

The Australian Government has invested $29.2 million into the Sustainable Regional Development program. This program aims to secure a sustainable future for Australia's high growth regional areas through regional sustainability planning and strategic assessments, and is one of the measures under Sustainable Australia - Sustainable Communities: A Population Strategy for Australia.

The Australian and Queensland Governments have agreed to work together to scope a long term plan for the sustainable development of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, informed by the comprehensive strategic assessment. This plan will be submitted to the World Heritage Committee for consideration in 2015.

The Sustainable Regional Development program is supporting the Great Barrier Reef comprehensive strategic assessment and the long term plan for sustainable development through funding targeted research.

Research projects

The Australian Government has invested in new research to inform the comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and adjacent coastal zone. This research will complement the wide variety of established research and literature also informing the strategic assessment and is funded by the Sustainable Regional Development program.

The research has been targeted to address key information gaps relating to the future management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and it will provide valuable input to the long term plan for sustainable development that has been requested by the World Heritage Committee.

The funded projects build on the substantial research investment the Australian Government is making through the National Environmental Research Program Tropical Ecosystems Hub.

Socio-economic

Understanding outstanding universal value

Informing management of coastal development

Cumulative impact management and integrated monitoring

Find out more

Contacts

For more information contact:

Great Barrier Reef Taskforce
Department of the Environment
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: 1800 803 772
Or via email: GBR.StrategicAssessment@environment.gov.au