Building Resilience

The Great Barrier Reef is already facing impacts from climate change. However the extent of damage from these impacts is dependent on the ecosystem's resilience. A resilient reef is better able to withstand stress and cope with impacts.

The Reef's resilience can be reduced by a range of factors including degraded water quality, coastal development, over-fishing and physical disturbance to habitats.

According to Reefs at Risk Revisited 2011 and the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2009, the Great Barrier Reef is one of the healthiest reef ecosystems in the world. This positions it well to cope with climate change better than most reefs around the world, but only if other stressors are effectively managed to protect the ecosystem’s natural resilience.

The GBRMPA has been building the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef by protecting its species and habitats from unsustainable uses and land-based sources of pollution.

The GBRMPA and its partners have been focusing on the following priorities to restore and maintain the Reef’s resilience:

  • Ensuring effectiveness of no-take areas as refuges for key species
  • Identifying and protecting critical habitats
  • Working with communities and industries to improve stewardship for local reefs
  • Understanding critical thresholds and the interactions between stressors to improve targeting of management efforts, such as improved catchment management
  • Monitoring and evaluation of patterns of damage and subsequent recovery rates following disturbances such as storms or flood events to inform the need for additional management measures.

GBRMPA has also engaged actively with communities and industries to raise awareness of climate change risks, vulnerability and resilience and encourage local stewardship actions that can help the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem cope with climate change.