Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program Strategy flip book icon

Monitoring heritage 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.


The heritage of the Great Barrier Reef — including its places, values and experiences — is rich and diverse.

The Reef has cultural significance to Traditional Owners. There are also aesthetic, historic, scientific, social and spiritual values such as shipwrecks, sites of early research, and places that are important to people who visit the Reef.

The Reef 2050 Plan’s overarching vision and all themes consider the Reef’s heritage value, protecting natural heritages including the Reef’s outstanding universal value that saw it inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981.

Indigenous heritage

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the First Australians and the Traditional Owners of the Great Barrier Reef.

Heritage preservation reflects continued recognition and respect for past generations of Traditional Owners and the ancestral beings that shaped the land, seas and waterways.

The strong ongoing links between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and their sea country are recognised in the Reef’s world heritage listing and contributes to its outstanding universal value.

Indigenous heritage is unique, dynamic and diverse. Traditional Owners express this through their relationships with country, people, beliefs, knowledge, lore, language, symbols and ways of living.

Many traditional cultural practices — which either directly or indirectly involve plants, animals and the environment — mean there are close links between nature and cultural identity:

The sea, its natural resources and our identity as Traditional Owners, are inseparable…Our ancestors have hunted and fished in this sea country since time immemorial… (Girringun Aboriginal Corporation).  

Non-Indigenous heritage

Non-Indigenous heritage includes places that embody a specific cultural or historic value, such as historic buildings and industrial sites, monuments, gardens, landscapes, cultural landscapes, archaeological sites, groups of buildings and precincts, and maritime sites and places. Heritage places illustrate national and social developments in Australia over the past few centuries.

Australia’s Burra Charter sets out responsibilities to protect, conserve and celebrate cultural heritage to preserve items that form part of the historic or cultural record, and to maintain a sense of continuity by sustaining things that identify who we are and where we have come from.

Actions and targets

The heritage actions in the Reef 2050 Plan are focused on building capacity for Traditional Owners to care for their traditional heritage, ensuring protection for cultural heritage values on the Reef, better management planning to protect cultural heritage and improved mapping, monitoring and reporting of key Reef heritage values.

Initial targets for heritage values have been set for 2020. These targets are focused on more effective cooperative management practices and partnerships to protect Indigenous and non-Indigenous heritage, and the inclusion of heritage values in decision-making and planning.

Monitoring heritage values and attributes

The below diagram shows the natural values that link to heritage 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.

A diagram showing 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