Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2013

The Great Barrier Reef Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2013 provides a framework for improving biodiversity conservation in the Great Barrier Reef Region.

It was developed in consultation with Australian and Queensland government agencies, researchers, industry representatives and conservation groups. The strategy's approach includes continuing to foster industry and community stewardship of the Reef, building ecosystem resilience in a changing climate and improving our knowledge to make more informed decisions.

This strategy establishes a process for determining and documenting the habitats, species and groups of species that are potentially at risk. Vulnerability assessments are being completed to identify actions to reduce the threats and pressures facing at-risk biodiversity. Identifying priority habitats and species is vital when managing such a large, complex ecosystem as it allows resources to be directed where help is most needed.

The habitats considered to be potentially at-risk are coral reefs, islands, the lagoon floor, mangroves, open waters and seagrass meadows. The species or species groups considered to be potentially at-risk are the dwarf minke whale, dugong, grey mackerel, humpback whale, inshore dolphins, king and blue threadfin salmon, marine turtles, seabirds, sea snakes, sharks and rays (including sawfish) and snapper.

A focus on areas close to the coast

In developing the strategy it became clear that inshore habitats along the developed coast and many of the species that rely on them are impacted by a range of threats. These include declining water quality due to catchment run-off, loss of habitat due to coastal and port development and climate change. Illegal fishing and poaching are also having some impact.

While there have been large-scale projects to better understand biodiversity and habitats of the Great Barrier Reef and significant programs addressing water quality and specific inshore species, there is an urgent need to systematically address the cumulative impacts on inshore biodiversity. A key proposal of the strategy is to establish an integrated inshore biodiversity program to focus on these threats and to set priorities to restore degraded habitats and re-establish the connectivity and function of coastal ecosystems.

Public consultation

A draft version of the Great Barrier Reef Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 2012 was released for a six-week public consultation period in August 2012. Feedback provided during the consultation period helped us finalise this important strategy.

A submissions report is available to show how public submissions were considered and incorporated into the final strategy.

The agency will work in partnership with the Queensland Government and other agencies to implement the final strategy’s actions, particularly those that address threats originating from catchments adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. Local government, Traditional Owners, community groups and marine industries will play an important role in implementing on-ground conservation activities to reduce threats and enhance the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef and its amazing biodiversity.