Conservation and protection of less disturbed catchments

This funding aims to maintain and/or improve the quality of water entering the Reef from less-disturbed catchments. $8.5M has been allocated to the Eastern Cape York Water Quality Program, which will enhance knowledge of water quality and related ecosystem health in the region and reduce pollutants flowing from the Cape to the Reef. Other investment is being made into better understanding the role of wetlands in reducing nutrients entering the Reef. This will be used to assist the prioritisation of wetland restoration.

#End of Partnership Targets

Maintenance or improvement of water quality from less disturbed catchments

Increase in Traditional-Owner-led water quality improvement projects and Traditional Owner involvement in non-Traditional-Owner-led projects.

The Protection and Conservation Workstream, with a total budget of $10 million, recognises that early interventions in less disturbed catchments is a priority, with the benefits likely to include:

· more cost-effective interventions;

· reducing degradation that would likely require larger scale, future remediation investment; and

· the protection and potential realisation of co-benefits and protection of other values.

#Priorities for Investment


Wetlands can absorb excess nutrients from Reef-adjacent land before it can unbalance Reef ecosystems and make them more vulnerable to significant impacts such as coral bleaching. However, investments into wetland rehabilitation and construction for the purposes of removing nutrients has been limited by a lack of scientific consensus, an accepted means for modelling both cost-effectiveness and total amount of nutrients removed and accepted approaches to prioritise best investment options across the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, in collaboration with the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) and Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE) is working to develop a rigorous process for prioritising this under-utilised tool for improving water quality.

Eastern Cape York Water Quality Program

The largest program of works under the Protection and Conservation Workstream is the Eastern Cape York Water Quality Program (ECY WQP). The objectives of the ECY WQP are to support the objectives and implementation of the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan 2017-2022.

The ECY WQP will specifically deliver the following outcomes in the ECY catchments:

• Improved understanding of catchment water quality in Eastern Cape York and the sources of sediment discharged to the reef
• Demonstrated results of best management practices to address legacy issues on going threats, including control of erosion from roads, tracks gullies and fire management practices
• Enhanced capacity and collaboration of local organisations, Traditional Owners and other land managers in catchment management practices for water quality improvement and delivery of projects by local people into the future
• Priorities identified for future investment in catchment management for water quality and aquatic habitats in Eastern Cape York
• Reduced erosion and anthropogenic sediment loads in the Annan River towards the ‘Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan’ target of 10% reduction by 2050.