Monitoring community benefits 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.
The Great Barrier Reef plays an important role in community life. Local residents and visitors from within Australia and around the world are drawn to the Reef for its exceptional natural beauty, and many people have strong connections with the Reef through culture, occupation or familiarity.
Human wellbeing — happiness, good health and prosperity — is inextricably linked to environmental health. Through sustainable fishing, the Reef is also a healthy food source for people in Queensland and around the world.
Traditional Owners have long highlighted the benefits their communities derive from the Reef environment, including through cultural connections to sea country, access to the Reef’s resources, employment and improved health outcomes.
This is why they are seeking world’s best practice in the development of cooperative management arrangements. The health benefits of natural ecosystems are well-recognised through initiatives like Working on Country, which explores the many ways in which nature significantly contributes to human health and wellbeing.
People also derive less tangible benefits from healthy ecosystems such as nature appreciation, opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment, and a better understanding of the complex natural world. The Reef also provides coastal residents with protection from wave action, especially in extreme weather.
Targets and actions
Generally, explicitly considering community benefits in environmental decision-making is not standard practice. As a result, in the Reef 2050 Plan the aim of this theme is to develop a shared understanding of community benefits derived from the Reef.
The plan sets out individual and collective roles and responsibilities to ensure these benefits are maintained and transmitted to future generations. An important step is further developing a long-term social and economic monitoring program that is implemented at local, regional and Reef-wide scales.
Monitoring community benefits
The below diagram shows the natural values that link to community benefits 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.