2014 Summary of assessment
The condition of all physical processes has declined since 2009. Further changes in processes such as sea temperature, sea level, cyclones and wind, freshwater inflow, waves and currents are expected under climate change projections. Reduced sediment loads entering the Region are likely to improve the processes of sedimentation and light availability in the longer term. Nutrient cycling in the Region continues to be affected by nutrients from landbased run-off but changes in land management are likely to result in longterm improvements. Heavy rainfall in recent years has temporarily affected ocean salinity in some parts of the Region. Ocean pH is changing and is projected to decline in the future under climate change scenarios. Unlike the Outlook Report 2009, this assessment does not include consideration of pesticide accumulation.
At a Reef-wide scale, most ecological processes are considered to be in good condition but significant losses in coral cover and declines in Ecological processes ecosystem health in the inshore, southern two-thirds of the Region are likely to have affected some key ecological processes such as connectivity, reef building and recruitment.
Terrestrial habitats that support the Great Barrier Reef
Terrestrial habitats that support the Reef are generally in better condition in the northern catchment. However, supporting habitats have been substantially modified in southern areas (south of about Port Douglas), especially wetlands, forested floodplains, grass and sedgelands, woodlands and forests, and rainforests. Coral disease is being increasingly observed on the Great Barrier Reef and is predicted to increase in the future. There are few incidences of other disease and introduced species in the marine environment and they tend to be localised. Outbreaks may be becoming more frequent as ecosystem conditions decline. The overall assessment of ‘poor’ is due to the severity of outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish which seriously affect coral reef habitats on a large scale.
Poor, Trend not assessed
Outbreaks of disease, introduced species and pest species
Poor, No consistent trend
Full assessment summary: see Section 3.7
< Photograph © Chris Jones