Coastal ecosystems

There are 14 coastal ecosystems that are important to the function of the Reef: coral reefs, lagoon floors, islands, open water, seagrass, coastline, estuaries, freshwater wetlands, forested floodplains, health and shrublands, grass and sedgelands, woodlands, forests, and rainforests. Some remain in their natural state while others have been modified through changes in land use.

These coastal ecosystems provide important links between land, freshwater and marine environments, and some are feeding and breeding grounds for marine species. Any changes to coastal ecosystems or habitat loss can lead to a range of adverse impacts on the long-term health and resilience of the Reef and the industries they support and flow-on effects for human well-being.

Coastal development was identified as a threat to coastal ecosystems in the 2009 and 2014 Outlook reports.  In response to this, a report was produced to Inform the Outlook for Great Barrier Reef coastal ecosystems.

The Authority’s position in response to the issue is:

Healthy coastal ecosystems are critical for the long-term health of the Reef. The loss of ecosystem function from coastal development is one of the major threats to the Great Barrier Reef. An Integrated whole-of-catchment approach is needed to protect and restore the ecological functioning of coastal ecosystems.

Coastal ecosystems position statement: The full statement can be viewed in our e-Library.