19 Jan 2015


For the first time in the Reef’s history detailed work has assessed the level of investment needed to tackle one its greatest threats – pollution from Reef catchments. 

A new report puts that figure at $785 million of new investment over the next five years and more than $2 billion over the next 15 years.

The Reef Regions Investment Plan has been developed by the six Natural Resource Management groups that operate alongside the Reef.

WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman welcomed the investment plan.

“These NRM groups have a proven track record and years of experience in delivering pollution reductions,” he said.

“Their report backs up what WWF has been saying: that an investment totalling billions not millions is needed to turn around the Reef’s decline."

“The Reef is an asset that generates $6 billion a year. Like any asset we must invest in its maintenance and repair."

“There’s still time in the Queensland election campaign for the parties to step up with the bold funding commitments required to save the Reef."

“The Reef needs a massive new injection of funds now, backed up by enforceable targets. Repackaging existing commitments will simply not be enough,” Mr O’Gorman said.

Nitrogen flowing off farms leads to crown of thorns starfish outbreaks which destroy coral. An outbreak can consume a reef in a few weeks. Sediment washing off grazing land clouds Reef waters killing coral and seagrass. 

The Reef Regions Investment Plan recommends where the money should be spent including continued improvement in agricultural practices, direct payments to farmers to improve water quality, improved storm water management, repair work to river systems, and funding for research and development and innovation programs. 

This investment plan fills a gap with a Federal Government-commissioned independent review by Jacobs Consultancy last year stating (about the threats to the Reef): “There is little information available on the level of investment that will be required to achieve the desired response.”

The World Heritage Committee has also encouraged more spending on water quality calling for the government to “where necessary expand … their funding, to achieve the ultimate goal of no detrimental impact on the health and resilience of the reef.”

Cape York Natural Resource Management, Terrain NRM, NQ Dry Tropics, Reef Catchments, Fitzroy Basin Association, and Mary-Burnett Regional Group are the six NRM groups behind the investment plan. 

Mr O’Gorman said an injection of new funds on this scale should be allocated competitively, based on verified environmental outcomes, and coupled with enforceable targets and minimum standards.

“If done properly, this could be a game changer in our efforts to turn around Reef health,” Mr O’Gorman said.

“We must also ensure that any new investments in the Reef’s health are not undermined by destructive activities such as dredging and dumping in the World Heritage Area."

“WWF believes that a massive new investment will help the Reef and farmers, and be a great boost to the ongoing viability of our tourism and fishing industries.”  

WWF-Australia Media Contact:

Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, msymons@wwf.org.au, 0400 985 571