Factors influencing the Region’s values
produce to market. Ongoing poor weather and damage to property and infrastructure in the Cassowary Coast left local fishers feeling uncertain about their capacity to fully recover, as they had only just recovered from cyclone Larry in 2006.143 The vulnerability of commercial fishers and tourism operators to climate change will depend on their exposure and sensitivity to the associated impacts, as well as the ability of the individuals or operators to anticipate and adapt to change.93 Although severe weather events such as floods and higher intensity cyclones may interrupt Reef-based businesses and decrease visitor satisfaction, the level of identity with, and attachment to, the Great Barrier Reef by Reef-based industry and community members is likely to remain high.144,145
Damage to foreshores and coastal infrastructure affects people’s use of the Region
6.4 Coastal development
Aboriginal people have lived along the coast of the Great Barrier Reef for over 40,000 years. Europeans first settled the area in the 1850s and since that time an increasing number of people have lived and earned their livelihoods there, often based around the natural resources of the Great Barrier Reef. For the purposes of this report, the term coastal development includes all development activities within the Great Barrier Reef catchment. Uses of the catchment relevant to the Region are agriculture, mining, urban and industrial development, port activities and island development. The influence of coastal development on the Region arises from both the legacy of past development actions, such as broadscale clearing of catchment habitats for agriculture, and current and future actions, such as smaller scale clearing and reclamation for urban and industrial development. Since the Outlook Report 2009, a large body of work has been synthesised to better understand the influence of modifications to coastal ecosystems on the Region’s values (see Section 3.5). Diffuse source pollutants from the catchment, principally as a result of agricultural activity, and their influence on water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef is discussed in the land-based run-off section (Section 6.5).
6.4.1 Trends in coastal development
Agriculture The majority of land in the catchment is used for grazing, cropping, dairy and horticulture, with more than 80 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef catchment supporting some form of agriculture. Cattle grazing is the most extensive land use, occurring in more than 74 per cent of the catchment (Figure 6.9).10,146 It is particularly extensive in the larger, drier catchments — the Fitzroy and Burdekin — but is a significant portion of most catchments, even the Wet Tropics.10,146 Smaller coastal catchments support more intensive agricultural uses such as cropping (mostly sugarcane). They also support forestry activities, which are undertaken in about five per cent of the catchment.10,146 Agricultural uses of the catchment have not changed substantially in the past decade, with the last major expansions in the 1990s.10 As with other sectors of the Queensland economy, there is a degree of uncertainty around future trends in agriculture, especially in relation to global economic trends and the value of the Australian dollar.4,147 Future development scenarios have been predicted to place even further pressure on the Great Barrier Reef through higher pollutant loads from multiple sources.4
The overall extent of agricultural land use has remained stable in recent years.