What does the Reef 2050 Plan mean for local governments?
Local governments are key partners in delivering Reef 2050 Plan actions.
- More than 1.2 million people live within the 32 local government areas along the coastal fringes of the Great Barrier Reef
- Historically, a further 2 million tourists visit annually.
- The Great Barrier Reef is the pride of coastal communities.
The updated Reef 2050 Plan includes strategic actions in five key work areas and four enabling areas. Local governments are involved in all areas of the Plan, but more specifically in actions related to:
- Climate change – contributing to Australia’s emission reduction targets by supporting and educating Reef communities, Traditional Owners and industries to reduce emissions and adapt to a changing climate; implementing climate mitigation and adaptation measures as part of their own operations; helping to deliver government and community climate initiatives; and strengthening local government climate adaptation risk assessment and planning capability, including developing sectoral adaptation plans.
- Land-based activities –urban water management to improve wastewater, stormwater and road run-off; urban land management practices and stewardship to deliver catchment and wetland outcomes; and managing urban lighting and recreation to reduce impacts on marine turtle nesting areas and cultural sites.
- Water-based activities – undertaking stewardship actions in partnership with Traditional Owners, the tourism and other industries, research providers and other Reef users to reduce impacts of water-based activities.
- Protect, rehabilitate and restore – reducing outbreaks of pests, introduced species and diseases (including pigs, foxes, aquatic weeds and crown-of-thorns starfish) through local approaches to pest mitigation that are coordinated and tailored to local areas.
- Collaboration and partnerships – supporting education and stewardship of the Reef; and strengthening partnerships with Traditional Owners to improve catchment and coastal management.
How is local government already contributing?
The Local Government Association of Queensland estimates local governments have invested more than $1.1 billion in activities that contribute to Reef protection – for example, waste management, wastewater and urban stormwater treatment, careful land use planning and development assessment, waterway and coastal foreshore rehabilitation, plastic pollution and litter reduction, and community education.
Reef Guardian Council Program
Nineteen councils are involved in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian Council program that recognises the extensive environmental work of councils and communities to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Reef Guardian councils are actively seeking innovations, tapping into research and industry expertise, and working together to improve Reef health and share learnings across councils.
Reef councils have developed an integrated package of initiatives – the Reef Councils’ Rescue Plan - to improve urban water run-off. Some of the initiatives already funded include developing an Urban Water Stewardship Framework to reduce nutrient loads from sewerage treatment plants, as well as a cleaner roads pilot project. Many other initiatives are ready to be delivered when funding is available.
Other examples of work being undertaken by councils include:
- Cairns Regional Council’s climate change strategy identifying the next decade of climate action including a pathway to net zero emissions. This work builds on previous climate action and coastal hazard planning, investments in renewable energy and an emissions reduction target of 50% on 2007-2008 levels by the end of 2021.
- A new recycling centre opened by Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council reducing the amount of waste going into landfill.
- Bundaberg Regional Council’s Reducing Urban Glow Initiative to increase the survival rate of marine turtles.
- Fox detection dogs used by the Livingstone Shire Council on the Capricorn Coast to protect turtle hatchlings.
- Predictive modelling used by the Cassowary Coast Regional Council to manage its gravel road network and reduce sediment run-off to the Great Barrier Reef.
- Gladstone Regional Council’s 60% reduction in landfill greenhouse gasses, predominantly methane, since 2012 through the Benaraby Landfill Gas-to Green Power project. This is equivalent to preventing 325,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.
- Fraser Coast Regional Council’s 26.7 hectare timber plantation which is irrigated using recycled water. The Christensen’s Plantation Project is being trialled as part of the Cleaner Wastewater initiative as a low-cost solution to reduce nutrient loads discharged from sewage treatment plants to the Reef.
How was local government involved in developing the Reef 2050 Plan?
The Reef 2050 Plan was developed in consultation with the Reef 2050 advisory bodies and stakeholders.
The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) is a member of the Reef 2050 Advisory Committee. The LGAQ and several councils also made submissions on the draft Plan.
How will Reef investment be prioritised going forward?
Through an increasing focus on partnerships and innovative financing, there are opportunities to boost and diversify investment for Reef protection and management.
There are eight priority areas for investment under the Reef 2050 Plan:
Infographic shows the following investment priorities: Water quality improvement, modern marine park management, crown-of-thorns starfish control, integrated monitoring and reporting, climate change, Traditional Owner priorities, sustainable fisheries, restoration and adaptation
Governments and other partners who are delivering actions will be guided by the Reef 2050 investment principles set out in the Reef 2050 Plan
What’s next for Reef 2050?
The Australian and Queensland governments will continue to work collaboratively with partners to implement the updated Reef 2050 Plan. Local councils will be engaged directly and through the LGAQ representative on the Reef 2050 Advisory Committee.