Factors influencing the Region’s values
This informs assessments of the four main factors directly influencing the Region: • climate change, having both direct effects on values and indirect effects mediated by other processes • coastal development • land-based run-off • direct use of the Region. The trends in each influencing factor are described as well as its effect on the ecosystem, heritage values and regional communities. This approach provides a basis for predicting future risks to the Region and its long-term outlook (Chapter 9 and Chapter 10). While direct use occurs within the Region (see Chapter 5), the other three influencing factors are largely external to the Region.
6.2 Drivers of change
Drivers are underlying causes of change in the environment. The drivers examined in this report were identified from the Australia State of the Environment 20111 and the draft Strategic Assessment of the Great Barrier Reef Region Report 20132. Drivers can operate across a range of scales, both in time and space, and they are interlinked, with each one influencing the others. For example, technological developments can play a role in economic growth, population growth and societal attitudes. Similarly, population growth can affect economic growth and societal attitudes.
6.2.1 Economic growth
Queensland’s economy is based principally on mining, construction, tourism and agriculture.3,4 The state’s economy has had an average annual growth rate of 4.2 per cent over the last decade (Figure 6.2) and has outpaced the economic growth rate of both the rest of Australia and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development group of nations for the past 20 years.3 While the effects of the recent global financial crisis were evident in Queensland, particularly in 2009, they were minor in comparison to the rest of the world and the economy has subsequently recovered (Figure 6.2). Over the 35-year period 2015–16 to 2050–51, Queensland’s annual economic growth is projected to be between 1.6 and 2.4 per cent.5 The underlying causes of this growth are global events, such as changes in the value of the Australian dollar7 and the global financial crisis; and domestic growth in the mining industry over the past ten years. The Australian dollar has appreciated strongly against the American dollar over the past decade and has remained strong since October 2010, when it reached parity with the American dollar.7 The prolonged high value of the Australian dollar has implications for the national economy, economic activity in the catchment and direct use of the Region, in particular for Reef-dependent industries such as tourism and commercial fishing.
Queensland has had Australia’s highest economic growth for over 20 years.
Figure 6.2 Economic growth in Queensland, 1990–91 to 2012–13
Growth in the resources sector has altered land use in the catchment.
Within the Great Barrier Reef catchment, growth in tourism stabilised between 2007 and 2012, with the total number of visitor nights growing by only 4 per cent.8 During the same period, international visitor nights declined by around 10 per cent.8 The decline in international visitors was offset to some extent by growth in the domestic tourism market.8 Growth in the commercial fishing sector has been less than anticipated. The strong Australian dollar has affected the price of seafood, as Reef-based seafood operators compete with imported product.9
Bureau of Statistics 2013 6
The Queensland economy has grown at rates above the national average for the past two decades. The graph shows the annual percentage change in the Queensland gross state product (chain volume measure) for financial years. Source: Australian