GREAT BARRIER REEF
// Outlook Report 2014
The scale and scope of growth in the resources sector has led to changes in land use within the Great Barrier Reef catchment, particularly in the Fitzroy, Burdekin and Mackay–Whitsunday areas.10 It has also created unprecedented demands for water, power and new infrastructure including roads, railways and largescale ports.10 In November 2013, the Queensland Government released the draft Cape York Regional Plan11. The plan identifies areas where economic development activities are prioritised as well as strategic environmental areas where development will be supported if the development outcome is demonstrated to not present a risk of irreversible or widespread impacts to the ecological integrity of the areas. The plan is yet to be finalised. Over the past six years, there have been fewer catchment residents employed in manufacturing, agriculture, forestry and fishing, and more employed in the mining and minerals sector, particularly in the Gladstone and Isaac local government areas.3,8
6.2.2 Population growth
Population growth in the catchment is likely to continue to drive changes in a number of factors influencing the Region’s values. These could range from an increase in direct use of the Region to effects on coastal habitats that support the Reef ecosystem. At the time of writing the Outlook Report 2009, the population of the Region’s catchment was 1,115,000. By 30 June 2012, this had increased by about two per cent to 1,165,115. The fastest growing urban centres in the catchment have continued to be Townsville (2.4 per cent in 2011) and Cairns (1.6 per cent in 2011).12 These cities also had the highest populations — 184,526 and 165,388 respectively in 2012.13
Figure 6.3 Infrastructure in the catchment and beyond
Economic activity in the Region, its catchment and beyond has resulted in a network of supporting infrastructure such as airports, ports, roads and railways.
Over the next 20 years, much of the Great Barrier Reef catchment is forecast to experience annual population growth of 1.6 per cent or higher (Figure 6.4), particularly in the southern half of the catchment.14 In comparison, the national rate of population growth is projected to slow, but remain above one per cent per annum over the next 20 to 40 years.15
Annual population growth is forecast at 1.6 per cent or higher for much of the catchment.
Figure 6.4 Population and forecast increases in the Great Barrier Reef catchment, 1991–2036
Source: Department of Treasury and Trade (Qld) 201416,17 and Australian Bureau of Statistics18 2013
Over the last decade, populations have grown steadily along the coast of the Great Barrier Reef. Populations are predicted to continue growing in the statistical divisions (SA4 level) and the main local government areas (LGAs) within the catchment.