The Great Barrier Reef is the healthiest coral reef system on the planet. Best practice management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and a firm commitment from the tourism industry to its conservation has ensured that it has remained resilient and in good health.
The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is approximately 350 000 km2 in size and is one of the largest World Heritage areas in the world. The Reef is one of the richest areas in terms of faunal diversity and its great diversity reflects the maturity of an ecosystem which has evolved over millions of years.
The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is probably the best-known marine protected area in the world, with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) in charge of managing all aspects of the Marine Park in partnership with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS). The Australian Government agency works towards the Marine Park’s long-term protection and ecological sustainability, as well as understanding and enjoyment for all Australians and the international community, through the care and development of the Marine Park.
In addition to GBRMPA and the QPWS, there are also several Reef Initiatives who look out for and care for our Reef.
The Sightings Network is a community based program to capture the unique, interesting, unusual and awe-inspiring experiences people have on the Great Barrier Reef. In collaboration with the tourism industry, the program bridges the gap in knowledge of species abundance and diversity that exists due to the enormity of the Great Barrier Reef. With more eyes out there, the more we will know. The more we know, the better we can manage the Marine Park.
Eye on the Reef is a partnership between the tourism industry, the GBRMPA and the reef research community. Selected tourism operators collect a range of biological information at frequently visited reef and island sites. It is also a successful partnership between reef managers and the community to detect large-scale coral bleaching. The information collected through the Eye on the Reef program strongly contributes to ensuring the Great Barrier Reef is effectively managed.
The Reef Guardian Council program seeks to raise awareness and encourage best management practice in local government activities. There are currently 13 councils along the Great Barrier Reef coastline, which includes all councils from Bundaberg to Cooktown, signed up to the program. This stewardship initiative is a key component in managing the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian Schools program provides students, teachers and their communities with the opportunity to instigate positive change for the environment in the face of emerging threats. More than 60,000 students have realised that they can be part of the solution and participate in building the resilience of the Reef through habitat rehabilitation, water quality initiatives, waste minimisation as well as direct emission reductions.