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4609.0.55.001 - Land Account: Great Barrier Reef Region, Experimental Estimates, 2011  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/02/2011  First Issue
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SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) region comprises the five Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions which lie adjacent to and drain into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP). They are: The Wet Tropics; Burdekin; Mackay Whitsunday; Fitzroy; and Burnett Mary.

Figure 1 - Land Account: GBR region


While this release incorporates data from a variety of sources it did not require new statistical collections to be conducted. It was compiled from existing ABS data sources as well as data sources made available by Commonwealth and State Government Agencies. The following Summary of Findings presents a social, economic and environmental picture of the region using data from a range of ABS publications. Information on the sources of data and how these were used to compile this release is presented in the Explanatory Notes.

PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES

  • There are 28 river catchments draining into the GBR region covering an area of over 38 million hectares across five NRM regions. The land area stretches from the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area in the north to the Sunshine Coast in the south and occupies over 20% of the area of the State of Queensland.
  • Nearly three quarters of the land in the GBR region is used for grazing beef cattle or for the production of sugar cane, horticulture and broad acre cropping.
  • Less than one percent of the land in the GBR region is urban.
  • National parks, State forests, conservation parks, recreation parks and reserves cover 11% of the land in the GBR region.


PEOPLE and INDUSTRY
  • There were just over one million people living in the GBR region at the time of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing. This represents 26% of the population of Queensland and 5% of the Australian population.
  • ABN holders with a registered business address in the GBR were allocated to 27.2 million hectares of land in the region
  • The Agricultural, Forestry and Fishing sector accounted for the largest proportion of this land (23.8 million hectares).
  • Of the 1.7 million hectares of land owned by Government, the Queensland State Government owned 1.3 million hectares while the Commonwealth Government owned 0.3 million hectares.

LAND USE and RATEABLE LAND VALUE (2008-09)
  • 32.6 million hectares in the GBR region is rateable land, which represents 86% of the total land mass.
  • The largest land use (by area) is Agriculture which covers 27.9 million hectares. Other significant land uses are for Residential land use (486,000 hectares) and Vacant land (800,000 hectares).
  • Rateable land in the GBR region is valued at $71.9 billion.
  • Rateable residential land is valued at $42.3 billion while the value of vacant urban land is $9.4 billion.

SUMMARY OF LAND USE BY SECTOR
NRM region
Industry
Government
Unallocated (a)
Green Space
Water Bodies
Rail and Roads
Other Land Use (b)
Total
ha
ha
ha
ha
ha
ha
ha
ha
Wet Tropics
780 119
84 274
322 903
910 565
16 652
20 200
32 130
2 166 844
Burdekin
10 702 348
213 490
2 247 603
451 855
100 858
25 700
339 631
14 081 486
Mackay Whitsunday
443 755
16 722
215 420
136 187
7 279
15 000
71 861
906 224
Fitzroy
10 688 026
424 906
2 397 531
1 741 070
90 679
50 300
220 915
15 613 426
Burnett Mary
2 704 727
91 978
1 253 996
1 165 857
41 545
40 400
21 314
5 319 818
Total GBR region
25 318 976
831 371
6 437 453
4 405 534
257 013
151 600
685 853
38 087 799

(a) Comprises land owned by households and cadastral parcels that could not be otherwise allocated.
(b) Land that could not be classified.
Source: ABS and the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM).



SUMMARY OF LAND USE BY SECTOR, Rateable Value
NRM region
Industry
Government
Unallocated (a)
Green Space
Water Bodies
Rail and Roads
Other Land Use (b)
Total
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
$m
Wet Tropics
6 646.3
271.1
8 505.4
10.8
11.8
..
..
15 445.5
Burdekin
4 872.0
322.9
6 146.8
3.1
32.8
..
..
11 377.7
Mackay Whitsunday
3 893.9
175.8
5 886.2
9.8
19.8
..
..
9 985.4
Fitzroy
8 348.0
265.3
7 474.8
11.8
40.7
..
..
16 140.7
Burnett Mary
6 126.1
186.2
12 588.5
13.6
25.3
..
..
18 939.8
Total GBR region
29 886.3
1 221.3
40 601.8
49.1
130.6
..
..
71 889.1

(a) Comprises land owned by households and cadastral parcels that could not be otherwise allocated.
(b) Land that could not be classified.
Source: ABS and the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM).

CATCHMENT SCALE LAND USE (2004)
  • According to the Australian Collaborative Land Use Mapping Programme (ACLUMP), 3.7 million hectares of land in the GBR region was used primarily for conservation purposes, which represents nearly 10% of the region.
  • Production from relatively natural environments accounted for 81% (30.9 million hectares) of land use across the region.
  • Dry land agriculture across the GBR region was practised on 1.3 million hectares (3%) of land, while irrigated agriculture was practised on 0.6 million hectares (2%) of land.
  • A total of 57,000 hectares throughout the GBR region was classified as "intensive uses", which is composed of land subjected to substantial modification, generally in association with closer residential settlement, commercial or industrial uses.


DYNAMIC LAND COVER MAPPING (2008)
  • According to the Dynamic Land Cover Mapping data, 3.2 million hectares of pasture in the GBR region was rain fed, with 57% (1.9 million hectares) of this area used for sheep, beef cattle and grain growing.
  • Sparse trees covered 18.5 million hectares, which represents 48% of the region, while inland water bodies covered 136,000 hectares of land.
  • Land cover classified as "irrigated sugar" accounted for a total of 346,000 hectares of land cover throughout the GBR region with the Mackay Whitsunday NRM region accounting for 120,000 hectares (35%). In comparison, "rain fed sugar" covered a total of 44,000 hectares with the Wet Tropics NRM region covering 36,000 hectares (81%) of this total.
  • Out of the total 159,000 hectares used by the mining sector, 103,000 hectares (65%) was classified as being covered by sparse trees.


VEGETATION COVER 2006 AND PRE-1750 (ABARES)
  • Pre-1750, 47% (18.0 million hectares) of eucalypt woodlands existed in the GBR region. By 2006 eucalypt woodlands covered 27% (10.6 million hectares) of the region.
  • Most of the loss of eucalypt woodlands (4.3 million hectares) occurred in the Fitzroy NRM region with a further loss of 1.6 million hectares in the Burdekin NRM region.
  • Where the level of vegetation has changed, most of it had become cleared, non-native vegetation and buildings (14.3 million hectares or 37% of the GBR region).
  • In 2006, regrowth and modified native vegetation accounted for 1.7 million hectares (4%) of the existing vegetation in the GBR region. Most of the regrowth occurred in the Fitzroy NRM region (1.1 million hectares).
  • Mangroves have remained relatively stable from the pre-1750 figure of 227,000 hectares to the 2006 figure of 219,000 hectares.


FOREST EXTENT AND CHANGE (1998-2008) (DCCEE)
  • In 2008 there was a total of 14.6 million hectares of forest cover throughout the GBR region, representing 38% of the total area.
  • There has been a reduction of 2.1 million hectares in forest cover over a ten year period from 1998-2008.
  • Forest extent in the Burnett Mary NRM region has remained relatively stable over the reference period with 53% of the NRM covered by forest in 2008 compared to 54% in 1998; a reduction of 51,000 hectares.
  • In the Wet Tropics NRM region (at 2008) nearly 79% (1.7 million hectares) of the total area was covered by forest. Of this forested land 51% (863,000 hectares) comprised of Rainforest and Vine Thickets.
  • The Fitzroy and Burdekin NRM regions have the most diverse ranges of forest cover types, with both regions identified as having 14 classified groups of species including Acacia Shrubland, Casuarina Forest and Woodland, Heath, Melaleuca Forest and Woodland and Rainforest and Vine Thickets.


WATER CONSUMPTION (2008-09)
  • According to the ABS's Water Account, during 2008-09, total water use in the GBR region accounted for over half (52%) of total water used in Queensland.
  • In 2008-09, the agricultural sector accounted for 74% of the total water used in GBR region while households used 8%.
  • Total water use in the Mackay Whitsunday NRM region was 27ML per hectare during 2008-09 while the Wet Tropics NRM region used 11ML, the Burnett Mary NRM region used 6ML, the Burdekin NRM region used 4ML, and the Fitzroy NRM region used 2ML.


For further information please refer to the ABS Water Account, Australia, 2008-09 (cat. no. 4610.0).


WATER CONSUMPTION BY SECTOR, 2008-09
NRM Region
Agriculture (a)
Household
Other
Total
ML
ML
ML
ML
Wet Tropics
165 063
38 584
37 511
241 158
Burdekin
495 430
22 040
97 911
615 381
Mackay Whitsunday
170 435
12 861
27 257
210 553
Fitzroy
233 517
26 404
115 240
375 161
Burnett Mary
202 925
30 968
69 724
303 617
Total GBR Region
1 267 370
130 857
347 643
1 745 870

(a) Comprises water consumption by businesses in the Agricultural "industry" and excludes any water consumption by businesses in another "industry" but with some agricultural activity.
Source: ABS Water Account, Australia, 2008-09 (cat. no. 4610.0)


LAND MANAGEMENT PRACTICES (2008-09)
  • The 2009 Land Management Practices in the Great Barrier Reef Catchments survey found that there were 17,100 holdings growing sugar cane, vegetables, fruit, berries, or nuts, broadacre cropping or grazing beef cattle.
  • Soil testing for nutrients was undertaken by 18% of the holdings.
  • Fertiliser was applied by 39% and chemicals were applied by 63% of the holdings.
  • Just over a quarter of the holdings irrigated between 1 July 2008 and 30 June 2009.
  • One fifth (20%) of holdings undertaking broadacre cropping used zero till in their land preparation compared with 7% of holdings growing sugar cane and 5% of holdings undertaking horticultural activity.
  • Nearly three quarters (73%) of holdings grazing beef cattle could provide an estimate of the extent of their ground cover as at the end of the 2008 dry season. Of the holdings that could provide an estimate 41% reported their ground cover was greater than 70%.

For further information please refer to Land Management Practices in the Great Barrier Reef Catchments, Final, 2008-09 (cat. no. 4619.0.55.001)


LAND MANAGEMENT PRACTICES BY NRM REGION, 2008-09
Wet Tropics
Burdekin
Mackay Whitsunday
Fitzroy
Burnett Mary
Total GBR
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
No.
Number of holdings
2 802
1 704
1 938
4 328
6 332
17 104
Holdings growing sugar cane
1 527
39
1 321
..
747
4 253
Holdings growing vegetables, fruit, berries or nuts (horticulture)
547
192
32
106
793
1 670
Holdings that prepared (sprayed, cultivated or had sewn) land for broadacre crops and/or cotton between 1 July 2008 and 30 June 2009
78
105
45
1 126
954
2 308
Holdings keeping beef cattle
1 150
660
1 031
4 135
5 257
12 550
Percent
Percent
Percent
Percent
Percent
Percent
Holdings undertaking soil testing for nutrients
34.9
21.8
36.7
6.5
12.5
18.3
Holdings applying fertiliser
68.7
46.2
70.1
10.7
34.5
39.3
Holdings using chemicals
77.3
72.4
81.6
50.1
57.8
63.2
Holdings actively controlling stock access to riparian areas
^15.9
^20.8
^19.4
^22.3
^21.4
20.4
Holdings ensuring at least 40% ground cover remained on paddocks at the end of the 2008 dry season
^43.6
^37.1
^43.1
^51.4
^39.4
43.3
Holdings irrigating between 1 July 2008 and 30 June 2009
23.7
49.3
48.4
8.2
25.3
25.7
Holdings reusing tail water
^2.3
27.5
31.2
^34.3
^14.3
20.2
Sugar cane holdings using zero till planters
4.0
20.9
*4.2
..
*8.6
^7.0
Horticultural holdings using zero till planters
^3.0
^7.8
..
^17.2
^5.2
5.4
Broadacre holdings using zero till land preparation
***6.7
^51.3
*2.7
^26.0
^11.1
^19.9
Beef cattle holdings able to provide an estimate of the extent of their ground cover at the end of the 2008 dry season
77.0
72.5
72.5
77.3
69.8
73.4
Holdings with ground cover greater than 70%
68.0
31.8
^41.1
^34.8
42.3
41.2

^ Estimate has a relative standard error of 10% to less than 25% and should be used with caution.
* Estimate has relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.
*** Estimate has a relative standard error of greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.
Source: ABS Land Management Practices in the Great Barrier Reef Catchments, Final, 2008-09 (cat. no. 4619.0.55.001)


AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION (2005-09)
  • From 2005-06 to 2008-09 the total gross value of agricultural production in the GBR region increased by $207.8 million; however the value decreased in both the Fitzroy and Burnett Mary NRM regions by $40.8 million and $27.7 million respectively.
  • In the Mackay Whitsunday NRM region, the gross value of irrigated agricultural production remained stable from 2005-06 to 2008-09.
  • As at 2008-09 the Wet Tropics NRM region had the highest proportional value of agricultural production ( $460 per hectare of the NRM region), while the Mackay Whitsunday NRM region reported $438 per hectare, the Burnett Mary reported $209 per hectare, Burdekin reported $72 per hectare and Fitzroy $67 per hectare of the NRM region.
  • In 2008-09 a total of 1,339.5 GL of water was used for agricultural activity throughout the GBR region. Within the Mackay Whitsunday NRM region, the average application rate of water was 20.4 ML of water per hectare of the NRM region. Land holders in the Wet Tropics NRM region applied 8.1 ML per hectare, the Burnett Mary NRM region applied 4.4 ML per hectare, the Burdekin NRM region applied 3.6 ML per hectare and the Fitzroy NRM region they applied 1.6 ML of water per hectare of the NRM region.


For further information please refer to Experimental Estimates of the Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production, 2000-01 - 2008-09 (cat. no. 4610.0.55.008)


GROSS VALUE OF IRRIGATED AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION (2005-09)
Gross Value of Agricultural Production
Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production
Volume of Water Applied



NRM Region
2005-06
2008-09
2005-06
2008-09
2005-06
2008-09
$m
$m
$m
$m
ML
ML
Wet Tropics
910.8
996.7
392.9
502.6
113 609.9
176 588.6
Burdekin
862.8
1 020.5
446.1
483.3
758 338.6
500 479.3
Mackay Whitsunday
364.1
396.8
188.0
187.7
147 789.2
185 123.9
Fitzroy
1 086.2
1 045.4
192.1
161.9
302 823.6
243 896.5
Burnett Mary
1 140.9
1 113.2
610.6
638.4
308 757.0
233 398.0
Total GBR Region
4 364.8
4 572.6
1 829.7
1 973.9
1 631 318.3
1 339 486.3

Source: ABS, Experimental Estimates of the Gross Value of Irrigated Agricultural Production 2000-01 - 2008-09 (cat. no 4610.0.55.008)


WETLANDS
  • There are 32 sites (comprised of 106 smaller sub wetland areas) classified as being "Important Wetlands in Australia", including 3 sites - Shoalwater and Corio Bays, Bowling Green Bay and Great Sandy Straight, which are recognised by the RAMSAR convention on wetlands as being of international importance.
  • Within the GBR region wetlands identified as "Important Wetlands in Australia" cover approximately 1.1 million hectares (2.9%).

IMPORTANT WETLANDS IN THE GBR REGION
NRM region
Total NRM
Important Wetlands
Important Wetland Sites
Proportion of NRM region
ha
ha
Number
percent
Wet Tropics
2 166 844
172 506
36
8.0
Burdekin
14 081 486
259 682
49
1.8
Mackay Whitsunday
906 224
30 795
3
3.4
Fitzroy
15 613 426
416 986
20
2.7
Burnett Mary
5 319 818
232 070
28
4.4
Total GBR region
38 087 799
1 112 039
106
2.9

Source: Queensland Government Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) and the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC).


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