Monitoring ecosystem health outcomes of the Reef 2050 Plan
The Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program covers the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and adjacent catchment monitoring programs.
This coordinated and integrated monitoring, modelling and reporting framework will help track the progress of the Reef 2050 Plan, under the plan’s seven themes: ecosystem health, biodiversity, heritage, water quality, community benefits, economic benefits, and governance.
Well-functioning ecological systems, such as coral reefs and associated habitats, underpin the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef and contribute to our quality of life and to human wellbeing.
A healthy ecosystem is a key part of the Reef’s integrity, biodiversity and heritage values. A healthy Reef also benefits communities and industries that depend on a healthy Reef for recreation and their livelihoods.
Traditional Owners and their continuing connection to their sea country play an integral role in the health of the Reef ecosystem, for example the sustainable use of marine resources through formal Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreements.
The Reef 2050 Plan includes targets and actions to measure, maintain and enhance ecosystem and water quality health over successive decades, which are delivered in part through the Marine Monitoring Program.
Targets and actions
The Reef 2050 Plan includes targets and actions to maintain and enhance ecosystem health over successive decades. These targets:
- relate to the ecological system (for example coral reefs, seagrass meadows and coastal habitats) that support or best represent the ecological and biological processes of the Reef
- provide habitat for biodiversity including threatened species; increase resilience to climate change
- support economic and community benefits (for example natural beauty, fisheries and protection from wave action).
Individual species contributing to ecosystem and habitat integrity are considered in the biodiversity theme.
Ecosystems can be influenced by many factors outside human control, such as floods and cyclones. Measuring progress towards the Reef 2050 outcome, objectives and targets for ecosystem health will take these externalities into account.
The Reef 2050 Plan includes some initial targets for the year 2020. For ecosystem health, this includes targets around Traditional Owner involvement, the condition of important land and sea areas, and human-related activities that impact the Reef.
This can be assessed directly by measuring recovery rates of values and indirectly by monitoring key processes such as coral reproduction, recruitment and mortality.
Monitoring ecosystem health
The below diagram shows the natural values that link to ecosystem health outcomes, objectives and targets from the Reef 2050 Plan, and what attributes of these natural values need to be monitored to evaluate progress towards these targets. The spreadsheet in Excel shows what monitoring is currently undertaken for this theme.