Original Zoning Plans  (1983-1997)

Between 1983 – 1988, Zoning Plans were progressively developed covering the four main sections of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park – namely the Cairns, Central, Far Northern and Mackay/Capricorn Sections. Between 1988 – 1997, an additional small section (Gummo Woojabuddee) was zoned and two existing Zoning Plans (for the Cairns and Far Northern Sections) were reviewed and the zoning amended.

Collectively these Zoning Plans resulted in a spectrum of zone types across the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park with approximately 4.5 per cent declared as no-take areas or ‘Green Zones'.

These Green Zones were based on the best available information and were considered to be the appropriate level of protection at that time, given the community views and consequent level of political acceptance.

Commencement of Representative Areas Program (1998)

In the late 1990s, it was recognised that the existing zoning throughout the entire Marine Park did not adequately protect the range of biodiversity known to exist. Many biological communities (for example, inshore marine habitats or deep offshore waters) were poorly represented in no-take areas. It was clearly recognised that all plants, animals and their habitats within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park played important roles in maintaining the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem. A systematic program was therefore commenced (the Representative Areas Program or RAP), which was specifically designed to determine the major habitat types of the Great Barrier Reef Region, and develop a new Zoning Plan based on protecting ‘representative’ examples of each habitat type within a network of no-take or highly protected areas. The Representative Areas Program was designed to maintain the health and resilience of the ecosystem and provide benefits for present and future generations.

Key publications