Conservation groups in Queensland today welcomed the release by Ministers Peter Garrett and Kate Jones of the updated Reef Water Quality Protection Plan. WWF-Australia, the Queensland Conservation Council, Australian Marine Conservation Society, and Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland joined forces to thank both governments for agreeing to a 50 per cent cut in expected pollution over the next four years.
WWF's Reef Catchments Manager, Dr Piet Filet, said rural solutions to address water quality on the reef could be accelerated further through greater alignment of national and state responses and more focus on increased incentives for farmers to adopt best practice, effective expert advice to growers, governance and targeted regulation.
"Both the reef and rural businesses will benefit as fertilisers, pesticides and soil stay on farm," Dr Filet said.
Over the next five years, investments from farmers and graziers to improve reef water quality will total $200 million. This is being backed by an additional $200 million from the Australian Government under the Reef Rescue initiative, as well as $175 million from the Queensland Government.
"Given the amount the Great Barrier Reef provides to the Australian economy each year, this $575 million investment represents a return of about 44 to one, and as such leads the way in national natural resource management reform."
A report released by the Australian Government today paints a grim picture of the health of the reef and underlines the importance of reducing local pressures on its survival in the face of global warming.
Prepared by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and released today by Environment Minister Peter Garrett, the Reef Outlook Report provides the most comprehensive stocktake ever of the reef, and shows the current rate of coral growth is at its lowest point in a century.
"The global threats to the reef from climate change highlights the importance of a rural catchment-wide water quality improvement program as a crucial part of building resilience into the reef," Dr Filet said.
"This is why the updated Reef Plan cannot be allowed to fail again.
"If we don't succeed in meeting the Reef Plan targets then efforts will need to be escalated further and significant land use change will become necessary."
For more information
Charlie Stevens, WWF Media Manager - Queensland, 02 8202 1274, 0424 649 689
Dr Piet Filet, WWF Reef Catchments Manager, 0407 711 262