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Experimental Environmental-Economic Accounts for the Great Barrier Reef

The Environment and Agriculture Branch produced a set of Experimental Environmental-Economic and Ecosystem accounts for the Great Barrier Reef Region

Reference period
2017
Released
21/08/2017
Next release Unknown
First release

Summary of findings

This publication should be considered experimental, as improvements to methods and new data sources continue to become available. The ABS will be seeking input from key stakeholders with the intention of addressing issues and concerns in future updates.

Overview

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is a globally significant area located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia. It extends for more than 2,300 kilometres along the north-eastern coast near the Australian state of Queensland. It is the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem and is listed on the register of World Heritage sites. The terrestrial (Great Barrier Reef Catchment Area) and marine (the Reef) ecosystems provide a number of benefits to humans through the generation and use of ecosystem services. The GBR Region consists of the GBR Marine Park along with the GBR Catchment Area, made up of six Natural Resource Management Regions (NRMRs), including Burdekin, Burnett Mary, Cape York, Fitzroy, Mackay Whitsunday and Wet Tropics.

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 NRMR Catchment Area20112016
Total PopulationPopulation densityAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People %Total PopulationPopulation densityAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People %
 sq km’000Person per sq km% of total000’Person per sq km% of total
Burdekin135 251222.11.67.1232.61.77.9
Burnett Mary55 612301.15.43.7316.95.74.4
Cape York101 72113.80.154.915.40.255.4
Fitzroy157 834227.81.44.8235.51.55.6
Mackay Whitsunday9 264131.514.24.1136.714.84.8
Wet Tropics20 861237.411.410.2253.312.110.1
Total GBR Region480 5591 133.62.46.61 190.42.57.2

NRMRs are meshblock approximations of the Department of the Environment and Energy's Natural Resource Management regions to align with Australian Statistical Geography Standard.
Source: Terrestrial Extent and Condition section, 2011 Census of Housing and Population and 2016 Census of Housing and Population.
 

Table 1. NRMR profiles, GBR region, 2011-2016

This publication uses the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting: Experimental Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA-EEA) international framework to integrate and track changes for complex biophysical data, economic data and other human activity. As an example, a key finding of this publication is the determination of ecosystem services input and tourism rent using a resource rent methodology. These estimate the value an ecosystem contributes to production after human inputs (such as labour, taxes, capital costs) are accounted for. Ecosystem services inputs were calculated for the Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Aquaculture industries and tourism rent was calculated for tourism activity.

Condition summary

A summary of the condition of the GBR Region from 2007-08 to 2014-15 is shown in Table 2.

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 Units2007-082008-092009-102010-112011-122012-132013-142014-15
Marine condition (inshore)
 Coral (a)Score4748474338394044
 Seagrass (a)Score3533282119283433
 Water Quality (a)Score4744443137373443
Climate
 Mean annual sea surface temperature (b)Degrees Celsius24.725.025.724.524.925.124.925.2
 Mean annual sea surface temperature anomaly (b)Degrees Celsius-0.270.300.53-0.38-0.160.12-0.110.24
 Mean annual rainfallmm1 0701 0909461 6331 100903869760
Pollutant Loads in selected monitored areas (c)
 Total Suspended SolidsKilotonnes18 788.012 639.06 889.819 647.05 532.09 559.01 243.32 074.6
 Total NitrogenKilotonnes57.636.929.3101.027.533.710.18.9
 Total PhosphorusKilotonnes16.29.29.232.07.79.31.52.5

a. Marine condition scores were sourced from the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan, Great Barrier Reef Report Card series (2015 issue).
b. Mean annual sea surface temperature and mean annual sea surface temperature anomaly are reported in calendar years from 2008 to 2015. These measures were sourced from the Bureau of Meteorology, eReefs Marine Water Quality Dashboard, Commonwealth of Australia.
c. Pollutant loads were sourced from the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, Queensland Government.
 

Table 2. Ecosystem condition summary, GBR region, 2007-08 to 2014-15

Marine

Following the heavy rainfall events of 2010-11, marine ecosystems showed an overall decline in condition but started to show signs of recovery from 2012-13 to 2014-15. Marine condition is heavily influenced by cyclones, severe weather events, rainfall and pollutant run-off.

  • Water quality scores in the GBR Region and all six NRM regions declined between 2007-08 and 2010-11, after large storm and flooding events, and then fluctuated through to 2014-15. There were five Category 5 cyclones in the region between 2006 and 2015, following a period from 1970 until 2006 where there were no Category 5 cyclones recorded, highlighting the increase in frequency and severity of storms in recent years.
  • From 2005-06 to 2014-15, the coral condition decreased, based on coral condition scores presented in the Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2015. All NRM regions reported an increase from 2013-14 to 2014-15, following large decreases after the 2010-11 flooding events. Coral condition change is a balance between disturbance events and regrowth rates. Repeated disturbances such as the 2016 and 2017 bleaching events and increased cyclone events are likely to both directly damage and reduce coral condition and to impact on regrowth rates. It should be noted that these last two bleaching events occurred outside the reference period for this publication, with respect to coral condition scores, and the impact of these will be reflected in future updates.
  • Seagrass decline is thought to be due to a range of impacts such as deposition of nutrients and sediments from agriculture, and marine-based activities such as dredging and anchor damage. In the last few years, the trending decline of seagrass meadows appears to have slowed and in some cases reversed, in part due to decreased rainfall leading to lower volumes of discharge and river loads.
  • The abundance of selected fish species has remained relatively stable across the majority of NRM region marine extensions between 2001 and 2017. The exception is the Burnett Mary NRM region, which experienced an overall decrease of 11% in the number of fish species recorded between 2001 and 2017.

Terrestrial

The greatest land use within the GBR Catchment Area was Livestock grazing, accounting for 67% of the total land use, in both 2011 and 2016. A matrix land account that integrates land use and dynamic land cover is presented in the Terrestrial Extent and Condition section of this publication.

  • The predominance of Livestock grazing means that, as well as being a major source of value to the agriculture industry, the nature of grazing activity and practices will have an influence over the ecosystem regulatory services capacity of the catchment. This is discussed in more detail in the Ecosystem Regulatory Services section of this publication.
  • In recent years, Livestock grazing expanded, in net terms, into land which was previously classed as Vacant residential and Other agriculture - cropping, while losing land, in net terms, to land classed to Extractive industries.
  • Pollutant loads move from land into rivers, then into the Marine Park, and are monitored as 'river loads', measured at catchment end-of-system sites. Monitored pollutant loads leaving catchments vary considerably from year-to-year, mainly due to differences in annual rainfall and runoff. Overall, the Burdekin and Fitzroy NRM regions contributed the highest quantity of total suspended solids (fine sediment) and nutrient river loads between 2006-07 and 2014-15.
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  1. No land use information available.
  2. Land uses categories have been created almagated for the presentation of this graph.
  3. This includes land uses that could not be allocated to AVPCC.

Biodiversity

  • Biodiversity in the GBR Region contributes significantly to the health of the Reef and its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and is incorporated in estimates of these factors.
  • In the GBR Region between 1994 and 2017, Birds and Reptiles showed little overall movement between threat categories. Four extra species of Mammals became Vulnerable, while Fish and Invertebrates saw two and three species, respectively, become Endangered. Frogs fared worst among the groups of fauna, with ten species added to the Endangered category, one species to Vulnerable, and five to Near Threatened. The primary threat to each faunal group was habitat loss and degradation; other key threats across all groups were feral species and climate change. Species in scope are those deemed threatened according to the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992, with a distribution range within the GBR Region.

Ecosystem services

A summary of benefits produced using ecosystem services in physical measures for the GBR Region (2006-07 to 2015-16) is presented in Table 3.

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 2007-082008-092009-102010-112011-122012-132013-142014-152015-16
Provisioning Services
 Food - Meat cattletonnes496 935.7476 429.3424 719.8451 056.3469 908.0457 618.4570 682.4586 460na
 Food - Sugartonnes29 404 592.029 299 735.028 262 411.023 054 570.023 430 217.825 738 628.028 483 702.029 591 927.9na
 Food - Other foodtonnes3 092 2982 323 4652 634 6822 015 6142 427 1792 124 0682 297 6962 231 453na
 Agricultural materialstonnes218.6459.2166.1201.5278.5277.2314.8379.1na
 Fishingtonnes10 96712 06111 52510 6459 0529 8378 8898 5938 259
 Aquaculturetonnes4 500.54 270.55 898.85 492.65 0565 064.35 397.86 662.16 470.9
 Timbernanana914 988.5977 852.2726 365.9735 115.4886 748.2na
Regulating Services
 Carbon stored (a)Megatonnes2 849.02 844.32 841.72 838.72 833.42 831.72 830.72 827.82 826.7
Cultural Services
 Visitorsmillions15.215.215.016.414.517.817.316.917.8

a. Amount of carbon stored at the end of the financial year
na - data not available
Source: Summary of data from tables in relevant sections of this publication.
 

Table 3. Benefits produced using ecosystem services in physical measures, GBR region, 2007-08 to 2015-16

  • Of the provisioning services identified, sugar provided the greatest contribution in volume in 2014-15, with 29.6 million tonnes produced; this was an increase of 4% from 2013-14.
  • The biocarbon stored in the GBR Catchment Area decreased by 21.2 megatonnes (-1%) from 2007-08 to 2014-15, highlighting changes to landscape within the region.
     

The value of the benefits for selected ecosystem services is summarised in Table 4. Meat cattle had the greatest value of production in the region, accounting for 43% of the total food production in 2014-15. Tourism consumption peaked in 2012-13, with total consumption of $9,432 million.

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  Units2006-072007-082008-092009-102010-112011-122012-132013-142014-15
Provisioning Services
 Food - Meat cattle$mna1 594.31 598.01 338.51 478.61 537.81 423.51 887.02 393.4
 Food - Sugar$mna788.7992.41268.4867.31 034.81 055.61 139.81 195.2
 Food - Other food$mna1 799.41 813.41 667.21 690.11 693.12 011.21 891.21 923.7
 Agricultural materials$mna177.2205.6220.1213.2254.6237.3251.9201.8
 Timber$mnananana80.475.059.459.977.3
 Fishing$mna118.1127.0125.8112.3100.1109.1115.6105.2
 Aquaculture$mna49.458.950.562.862.060.667.886.0
Cultural Services
 Tourism consumption$m8 093.08 387.98 036.78 395.67 692.99 066.29 435.18 976.19 167.1

na - data not available
Source: Summary of data from tables in relevant sections of this publication.
 

Table 4. Value of benefits produced using ecosystem services, GBR region, 2006-07 to 2014-15

The impacts of severe weather events in 2010-11 (including extremely high rainfall, cyclones and flooding) on agricultural production appear to have been broadly negative, with marked declines in tonnes produced in sugar (-19%), horticulture (-26%) and broadacre crops (-25%). Livestock meat production appears to have been only modestly impacted. A relationship can be drawn between agricultural production and practices and the impact of agricultural runoff on water quality, but the data also suggests that the timing of any such impacts may be determined more by peak rainfall events than by timing of productive activity.

Table 5 presents a summary of ecosystem service input (resource rent) for selected industries in the GBR Region.

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IndustryUnits2006-072007-082008-092009-102010-112011-122012-132013-142014-15
Ecosystem services input (resource rent method)
 Agriculture$mna205.4433.8410.4636.9980.71 049.1972.71 226.5
 Forestry$mnananana9.416.511.215.328.5
 Fishing and Aquaculture$mna35.042.042.035.044.039.046.045.0
Tourism rent
 Tourism (a)$m310.6332.6290.9320.7299.0404.2535.0470.0523.3

a. Tourism rent contains ecosystem services input as well as other non-produced tourist attraction inputs; see Tourism section and Explanatory Notes
na - data not available
Source: Summary of data from tables in relevant sections of this publication
 

Table 5. Ecosystem service input (resource rent method) selected industries, GBR region, 2006-07 to 2014-15

  • Ecosystem services input, as calculated by the resource rent method, is the residual value after deducting labour, materials and produced capital as inputs to production. It is defined as the input by ecosystem services to production.
  • In 2014-15 the ecosystem services input for GBR Region Agriculture was $1.2 billion. This ecosystem services input was 44% of Gross Operating Surplus for Agriculture, and has risen as a share of Gross Operating Surplus from 12% in 2007-08. This rise was due to a number of factors, including the end of the Millennium Drought during the 2000s and declining costs of produced capital since the Global Financial Crisis.
  • Tourism rent in 2015-16 was $0.6 billion, or 15.6% of tourism GVA. Tourism rent is the resource rent calculated as a value extracted from all tourist attractions. Ecosystems feature prominently among tourist attractions in the GBR Region.

Expenditure of environmental goods and services

  • In terms of the total $494 million expenditure on environmental goods and services aimed at protecting the Reef, local government was the largest contributor to these expenditures, accounting for $229 million (46% of total), followed by the Australian Government with $145 million (29%), Queensland Government $78 million (16%) and non-government sources $41 million (8%).

Tourism

  • The number of visitors to the GBR Region increased from 15.2 million in 2007-08 to 17.8 million in 2015-16. This change is reflected in the value of direct tourism consumption, which increased from $8.4b to $10.0b.
  • The number of visits to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park increased from 1.9 million to 2.3 million across the reference period. The value of revenue collected in the Marine Park increased by 20% in the same period, from $7.3 million to $8.8 million, due to gradual increases in part-day and full-day charges.
  • Tourism employed about 46,000 people in the GBR Region in 2015-16. Between 2010-11 and 2014-15 tourism employment contributed about 8.2%, on average, of total employment in the region. This would make tourism, if counted as an industry, one of the more significant employing industries in the region. As a comparison, Education and Training jobs made up about 8.1% of total jobs in 2011-12.
  • The Wet Tropics NRM region, centred around Cairns, records much higher tourism expenditure than in other NRM regions with comparable or greater numbers of total visitors. The region sees significantly more international visitors (4.8 million visitors in 2015-16) than any other NRM region. The attractiveness of the area is likely due in part to its positioning as a well-known destination, specifically for tropical ecosystem related attractions. Cairns and Port Douglas are two of the major launching point for tours to the Great Barrier Reef, as the Reef is quite close to the shoreline in this part of the catchment compared with further south.

Fishing and aquaculture

  • This account highlights linkages between changes to the regulatory environment for fishing in the GBR Region and subsequent changes to the richness of fish species observed. Between 2003-04 and 2004-05 the value of fishing production in the region fell by $45.7 million (25%); fishing tonnage produced fell by 27%, number of licences was down 16% and fishing effort in person days fell 22%. Production per person day of effort was largely unchanged during this transition. The GBR Marine Park was rezoned in 2004, coinciding with a Commonwealth government buy back of a portion of commercial fishing licence quotas and a number of other drivers of reduced fishing activity which are detailed in the relevant section of this publication
  • With the reduction in fishing production, the fish abundance scores observed in the Marine Park show that abundance has been substantially maintained, exhibiting fluctuations in year to year observations but with no clear decline trend. Fish abundance scores are a measure of marine condition - for further discussion, refer to the section on Marine Extent and Condition.
  • Across the full reporting period 2001-02 to 2015-16, the value of fishing production decreased by 46%, from $190 million to $104 million. Physical production decreased by 46%, from 15,341 tonnes to 8,259 tonnes, over the same period. Licence numbers and fishing effort also decreased by 52% and 45% respectively.
  • The resource rent of fishing increased by 62%, from $28 million to $45 million, between 2004-05 and 2014-15.

Water

  • The use of water for irrigation in agricultural activities in the GBR Catchment Area has increased from 2010-11 to 2015-16 by an estimated 135%, from 773,979 ML in 2010-11 to 1,821,593 ML in 2015-16. Burdekin was the NRM region that accounted for the largest proportion of water use in the GBR Catchment Area, representing 58% of water used for agricultural activity in 2015-16.
  • In 2014-15, the gross value of irrigated agricultural production in the GBR Catchment Area was $2.2 billion. Of this, Sugar had the highest value of irrigated production, accounting for 32% of the total in 2014-15, and used 69% of total water applied to agricultural activity.
  • As of June 2016, 760,649 ML of water was stored in large urban dams and 4,429,438 ML of water was stored in large rural dams.

Carbon

  • 'Forests' stored the greatest amount of carbon above and below ground in the GBR Region, with a total of 2,134 Mt C (76%) in 2015-16, followed by 'Grasslands' and 'Mangroves', with 435 Mt C (15%) and 149 Mt C (5%) respectively. While 'Mangroves' only accounted for 5% of the total stored carbon in the GBR Region, they recorded the highest density, 687 tonnes per hectare.
  • The rate of decrease in carbon stocks was very rapid between 1989 and 1997, but has slowed in recent years. This reduced rate of loss of biocarbon can be attributed to forest regrowth and slowing of losses from grasslands, resulting in net gain of forest carbon stocks from 2008 to present. Although forest carbon has increased, there has still been an overall net decrease of biocarbon stored in the GBR Region.

Marine extent and condition

The SEEA-EEA defines ecosystem assets as 'spatial areas containing a combination of biotic and abiotic components and other characteristics that function together' (para 4.1 SEEA-EEA). Ecosystem assets can be measured in terms of extent and condition as well as expected ecosystem service flows. This section presents marine use and condition accounts for the Great Barrier Reef marine area (the Reef), using detailed information from the Great Barrier Reef Report Card series, the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS). The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) provides economic and community benefits in the form of tourism, employment, cultural services (tourism and participation in cultural activities) and provisioning services (aquaculture, fish, etc.). Marine condition is likely to impact the future economic and community benefits provided by this unique ecosystem.

Asset

While an asset account is not presented for the Reef marine area, the following areas were reported by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) in 2013 for the extent of marine assets:

  • Mangroves - 2,070 km²
  • Seagrass meadows
    • Shallow (<15m from surface) - 5,700 km²
    • Deep (>15m from surface) - 40,000 km²
  • Coral reefs - 26,000 km²
  • Lagoon floor - 210,000 km²
  • Shoals - 278 km².
     

Marine use

A marine use account, analogous to the land use accounts, was developed using zoning data from the GBRMPA. Zoning offers insights into the various uses of the marine area, in lieu of the more detailed information available for terrestrial areas which can be compiled into land accounts. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003, which came into effect on 1 July 2004, was enacted to improve protection for the biodiversity within the park. The plan helps 'to ensure that a diverse range of other benefits and values of the Marine Park, including recreational, cultural, educational and scientific values are protected' (Zoning, Permits and Plans, GBRMPA).

Table 1 below sets out the area of each zone type before and after 1 July 2004, while Figure 1 displays the current zoning in a map. The 2004 re-zoning resulted in a large decline in the amount of area classified as 'General Use', with large increases in the area of 'Habitat Protection' and 'Marine National Park'. Data on uses within the Marine Park are present in other sections. The Fishing and Aquaculture section presents information on commercial fishing within the GBR Region and the Tourism section presents data on visits to the Marine Park, including Environmental Management Charge information.

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Zone TypeOpening Area pre 2004 Rezoning sq kmNet change in AreaClosing Area post 2004 Rezoning sq km
Preservation Zone344344688
Marine National Park15 84298 843114 685
Scientific Research34310344
Conservation Park3449 6439 988
Buffer2 0663 1005 166
Habitat Protection52 34944 77197 120
General Use268 288-157 012111 276
Total GBR Marine Park339 2680339 268

sq km - square kilometres
Source: Table 6.4 Changes in Zone Area following 2004 Rezoning, GBRMPA, 2009, p.126.
 

Table 1. Marine zoning (use) account, GBR marine park, at 01 July 2004

    Figure 1. GBR marine park zoning, 2004 - present

    Figure 1. GBR marine park zoning, 2004 - present

    Figure 1. GBR marine park zoning, 2004 - present

    Image of a map showing the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park zoning, 2004 to present.

    The map shows the area of Queensland containing the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park boundary, Indicative Reef boundary, Great Barrier Reef Catchment boundary, Towns, Natural Resource Management Region, Mainland and Islands.

    Within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park boundary the map shows the zones of; general use, habitat protection, Conservation Park, buffer, Scientific research, Scientific research (closed to public access), Marine National Park and Preservation.

    Map projection: Unprojected Geographic Horizontal Datum: Geocentric Datum of Australia, 1994
    Data source: Department of Natural Resource and Mines (Natural Resource Management Regional boundaries clipped to the Great Barrier Reef Catchment) August 2017

    Source: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)

    Marine condition

    For the purpose of this section marine condition was established using the following key characteristics of the Marine Park ecosystems:

    • Water Quality
    • Coral
    • Seagrass
    • Fish Abundance.
       

    Data on these characteristics were retrieved from a variety of sources.

    Water quality

    Water quality scores retrieved from the Great Barrier Reef Report Card Series are indexes based on a number of remotely sensed measures. Water quality scores have fluctuated since 2005-06, and generally fell to their lowest point in 2010-11, after large storm and flooding events (Graph 1). In 2014-15 the Wet Tropics and the Fitzroy NRM regions both reported poor condition, while all other NRM regions reported moderate condition. Water quality was not evaluated for the Cape York and the Burnett Mary NRM regions because of limited ground-level data available for validation.

    Note that in 2011-12 there were major improvements to the remote sensing methods to measure water quality in the GBR Marine Park. The full historical time-series was updated by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) - it is available through the eReefs Marine Water Quality Dashboard. A summary of these data are presented in Table 2 below.

    Users should note that a revised water quality metric was developed in 2015-2016 as an initial step towards integrating multiple streams of data to measure and report water quality condition. The previous metric relied exclusively on satellite data, whereas the new metric is underpinned by the eReefs biogeochemical model integrated with satellite images for improved accuracy in what is commonly referred to as a data assimilation process. The Great Barrier Reef Report Card 2016, scheduled for publication in September 2017 (and not available at the time of release of this publication), will utilise the CSIRO eReefs marine water quality model for its ability to deliver a more accurate water quality assessment than reporting based on remote sensing.

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    Values are indexed scores scaled from 0-100; 0-20 = very poor, 21-40 = poor, 41-60 = moderate, 61-80 = good, 81-100 = very good.

    Source(s): Reef Water Quality Protection Plan, Great Barrier Report Card 2015, Commonwealth and Queensland governments.

    The BoM produces a number of water quality measures using satellite imagery. Table 2 indicates that chlorophyll-a concentration, for the inshore marine water bodies within the GBR Region, increased by 23% between 2002 and 2016, from 0.62 mg m-3 to 0.76 mg m-3. These concentrations were above the "trigger value" of 0.45 mg m-3 (footnote1); that is, the value that should trigger management actions, according to the Water Quality Guidelines for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The Fitzroy, Mackay Whitsunday and Cape York NRM regions reported the highest concentrations of non-algal particulates (NAP), with concentrations of 4.41, 2.45 and 2.35 g m-3, respectively. These scores exceeded the trigger value of 2.0 g m-3 for NAP. A full time series of data for each measure are available in the Data downloads section.

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     2002Net change2016
     Cl-aCDOMNAPCl-aCDOMNAPCl-aCDOMNAP
     mg m-3m-1g m-3mg m-3m-1g m-3mg m-3m-1g m-3
    Burdekin0.710.122.480.000.00-0.320.710.122.16
    Burnett Mary0.530.070.940.200.040.360.730.111.30
    Cape York0.610.092.210.160.030.140.770.122.35
    Fitzroy0.650.103.000.280.071.410.930.174.41
    Mackay Whitsunday0.450.071.950.110.020.500.560.092.45
    Wet tropics0.890.142.69-0.020.00-0.760.870.141.93
    Total GBR Region0.620.092.430.140.040.460.760.132.89

    Water quality measures are yearly mean concentrations
    Cl-a - Chlorophyll-a concentration
    CDOM - Colour dissolved organic matter
    NAP - Non-algal particulates (suspended solids)
    Source: eReefs Marine Water Quality Dashboard, Bureau of Meteorology, Commonwealth of Australia.

    Table 2. Selected inshore marine water quality measures, by NRM marine region, 2002 to 2016

    Coral

    The presence of coral is central to the GBR Region being listed as a World Heritage Area. It is also critical for fish populations, the provision of recreational activities (such as snorkelling), and for other important ecosystem services, such as coastal hazard risk reduction and adaptation.

    Inshore reefs of the Great Barrier Reef form only a small part of the World Heritage Area, but their health has high significance, and their proximity to land exposes them to additional threats. Inshore reefs are used extensively for recreational activities, such as fishing. They are more exposed to river runoff and pollution from the adjacent catchment, coastal development and shipping and many are located where bleaching risk is high. Inshore reefs are therefore specifically monitored to support the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan.

    Graph 2 below shows condition scores measured at inshore sites, which are based on a number of variables. Overall condition score for coral is the average of component scores for combined hard and soft coral cover, coral change, proportional macroalgal cover, juvenile density and coral community composition (footnote 2). In 2015 the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan method for measuring inshore coral condition changed. The time series for coral was hindcast so that results were comparable with the 2014-15 results.

    The Fitzroy region reported the lowest coral condition score during this period and recorded the largest overall decline. All NRM regions showed an increase from 2013-14 to 2014-15 following large decreases after the 2010-11 flooding events. Cumulative impacts, including the recent bleaching events and a series of category 3, 4 and 5 cyclones, are likely to impede recovery. No coral monitoring occurs in the Cape York or Burnett Mary regions under the Marine Monitoring Program.

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    Values are indexed scores scaled from 0-100; 0-20 = very poor, 21-40 = poor, 41-60 = moderate, 61-80 = good, 81-100 = very good.

    Source(s): Reef Water Quality Protection Plan, Great Barrier Report Card 2015, Commonwealth and Queensland governments.

    Hard coral cover is a component of inshore coral condition, and data on this characteristic is also available for offshore areas. Table 3 and 4 below present hard coral cover as a measure of condition for coral across the marine area. Users should note that the two tables contain an average of monitored data points drawn from two monitoring programs, the inshore Marine Monitoring Program (MMP) and the offshore Long-Term Monitoring Program (LTMP).

    The tables below show coral condition up to the survey season of 2015-16, a year in which coral condition had improved in the absence of major disturbances prior to the two recent mass bleaching events. In 2017, however, there was significant decline in hard coral cover in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park overall, especially in the northern parts of the Reef. For long-term trend estimates of hard coral coverage based on offshore coral observations and modelled to cover the entire Reef rather than only monitored sites, refer to GBR Condition Summary 2016-17, published by AIMS. This report shows that "over the past 12 months hard coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef declined by about a quarter".

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     20072008200920102011201220132014201520162017
    Burdekinaverage %21.81222.114.3167.019.310.922.421.123.2
     no. reefs1416141615171415111712
    Burnett Maryaverage %70.564.815.610.61.69.43.914.419.732.553.1
     no. reefs24242424242
    Cape Yorkaverage %30.6na33.9na37.9na31.1na14.1na7.4
     no. reefs7-7-7-7-7-7
    Fitzroyaverage %34.531.532.122.419.621.121.925.027.729.940.5
     no. reefs1229132913301331142711
    Mackay Whitsundayaverage %3736.93228.526.929.929.833.131.636.635.4
     no. reefs1471471471471269
    Wet Tropicsaverage %26.126.730.932.224.821.222.923.22231.419.8
     no. reefs2022192221241920172414
    GBR Totalaverage %30.528.329.323.523.018.423.721.823.929.126.5
     no. reefs7080708074807080657956

    na - not applicable
    - nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
    Notes
    Some reefs were unable to be geocoded to a NRM region so GBR sums may not total.
    Hard coral cover percentage is based on a number of reefs sampled and not the total number of reefs in the GBR.
    Source: Long-Term Monitoring Program (LTMP), Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and Marine Monitoring Program (MMP), a collaboration of GBRMPA, CSIRO, James Cook University, the University of Queensland and AIMS.
     

    Table 3. Average hard coral cover percentage, by NRM marine region, GBR region, 2007-2017

    The Northern inshore and Northern offshore GRMPA Management sectors have seen great declines in coral cover since 2007 but recovered somewhat in 2016. Users should again note that northern hard coral cover measured in the Long-Term Monitoring Program declined substantially in 2017 and to refer to GBR Condition Summary 2016-17 published on the AIMS website.

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     20072008200920102011201220132014201520162017
    Northern inshoreaverage %32.437.535.742.334.829.527.718.817.325.113.1
     no. reefs94949494947
    Northern offshoreaverage %25.8na29.6na34.7na28.9na15.6na8.4
     no. reefs60606060606
    Southern inshoreaverage %30.127.530.92922.921.524.423.724.431.322.9
     no. reefs3333323336333232273320
    Southern offshoreaverage %31.628.124.517.615.514.919.721.327.927.838.5
     no. reefs2243234323432339234223
    GBR Totalaverage %30.528.329.323.52318.423.721.823.929.126.5
     no. reefs7080708074807380657956

    na - not applicable
    - nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
    Notes
    Some reefs were unable to be geocoded to a GBRMPA Management Sector region so GBR totals may not add up.
    Hard coral cover percentage is based on a number of reefs sampled and not the total number of reefs in the GBR.
    Source: Long-Term Monitoring Program (LTMP), Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and Marine Monitoring Program (MMP), a collaboration of GBRMPA, CSIRO, James Cook University, the University of Queensland and AIMS.
     

    Table 4. Average hard coral cover percentage, by GBRMPA management sector, GBR region, 2007-2017

    Hard coral cover percentage change is a product of the balance of disturbances and regrowth. Bleaching and poor water quality can affect rates of regrowth, therefore contributing to declines in coral cover and condition through reduced resilience (footnote 3). Crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and cyclones have been identified as leading causes of disturbance and decline in coral cover (footnote 4).

    Tables 3 and 4 show that in recent years up to 2016 there was an increase in coral cover in some sectors and NRM regions due to the absence of new disturbances. The GBR experienced mass coral bleaching events in 1998, 2002, 2016 and then again in 2017 which was beyond the 2017 reporting period covered by these tables. Steeper declines in hard coral cover for 2017 reporting year have been recorded in GBR Condition Summary 2016-17 published by AIMS, showing the impact of the 2016 bleaching event. The Reef experienced the worst coral bleaching event on record in 2016, due to high sea surface temperatures combined with a strong El Niño event - GBRMPA have estimated that 29% of shallow-water coral cover on the GBR was lost as result of this bleaching (footnote 3).

    Coral bleaching has had a varied impact across the GBR Marine Park as highlighted in Figure 2 below. Bleaching in 2016 did not strongly impact southern areas such as Fitzroy and Burnett Mary. Although marine condition has not been reported since Cyclone Debbie in late March 2017, it is expected that there has since been further decline in coral condition due to that cyclone and these two bleaching events.

      Figure 2. Extent and severity of bleaching effects, 2016 and 2017

      Figure 2. Extent and severity of bleaching effects, 2016 and 2017

      Figure 2. Extent and severity of bleaching effects, 2016 and 2017

      Image of two comparative maps from 2016 and 2017 showing the extent and severity of bleaching effects from 2016 and 2017.

      Both images show the most severe bleaching and no or negligible bleaching along the Queensland coastline containing Cairns, Townsville and Mackay.

      Source: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

      Note: Composite map of surveyed corals across the 2016 and 2017 back-to-back bleaching events. Not all data is shown, only reefs at either end of the bleaching spectrum: Red circles indicate reefs undergoing most severe bleaching (60% or more of visible corals bleaching) Green circles indicate reefs with no or only minimal bleaching (10% or less coral bleaching).

      Seagrass

      Seagrass meadows are an important part of the Outstanding Universal Values and ecological functions of the Reef. As well as stabilising sea-floor sediments, seagrass meadows are the habitat for a diverse range of species including globally significant populations of dugongs, fish, turtles and other animals, some of which are becoming endangered. Seagrass meadows also support a range of carbonate-secreting organisms that may contribute to removal of atmospheric carbon.

      In the last few years, the trending decline of seagrass meadows appears to have slowed and in some cases reversed. Graph 3 shows that inshore seagrass condition reached its lowest point in 2011-12 and has since recovered and then stabilised. Seagrass decline is thought to be due to a range of impacts such as reduced light (cloud cover from storms, land-based runoff), cyclone-induced scouring of the seabed, deposition of nutrients and sediments from agriculture, and marine-based activities such as dredging and tourism (for example, localised impacts from anchor damage).

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      Values are indexed scores scaled from 0-100; 0-20 = very poor, 21-40 = poor, 41-60 = moderate, 61-80 = good, 81-100 = very good

      Source(s): Reef Water Quality Protection Plan, Great Barrier Report Card 2015, Commonwealth and Queensland governments.

      Graph 4 shows that the Fitzroy NRM region has had the greatest decline in seagrass condition over the period of 2005-06 to 2014-15. In 2014-15, most NRM marine regions experienced poor condition with the exceptions of Burdekin which reported moderate condition, and Fitzroy which reported very poor condition. The improvement in condition was largely a result of an increase in abundance and reproductive effort, indicating localised recovery after Cyclone Yasi in 2010-11.

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      Values are indexed scores scaled from 0-100; 0-20 = very poor, 21-40 = poor, 41-60 = moderate, 61-80 = good, 81-100 = very good

      Source(s): Reef Water Quality Protection Plan, Great Barrier Report Card 2015, Commonwealth and Queensland governments.

      Fish abundance

      The diversity of fish species in the marine area is recognised in the World Heritage listing of the GBR Region. There are 1,625 species in the area, of which 1,400 are coral reef species. The presence and abundance of selected fish species is considered an ecosystem condition measure. Table 5 presents data from the AIMS Long-Term Monitoring Program, presented by NRM marine region.

      Download
       200120032005200720092011201320152017
      Burdekinavg. abundance56.260.365.657.660.357.257.262.960.8
       no. reefs998999988
      Burnett Maryavg. abundance58.071.069.569.063.037.033.542.051.5
       no. reefs222222222
      Cape Yorkavg. abundance81.181.683.683.786.382.085.080.976.4
       no. reefs777777777
      Fitzroyavg. abundance62.163.071.166.065.959.357.254.959.8
       no. reefs999899999
      Mackay Whitsundayavg. abundance57.760.860.163.065.160.963.960.962.8
       no. reefs999999999
      Wet Tropicsavg. abundance66.769.068.968.668.867.069.066.964.5
       no. reefs91010101010101011
      GBR Totalavg. abundance64.366.969.867.868.864.065.164.264.4
       no. reefs464746464747474647

      Notes
      Some reefs were unable to be geocoded to an NRM Region region so GBR totals may not add up.
      Average fish species abundance is based on a sample of reefs and not the total number in each region.
      Source: Long-Term Monitoring Program (LTMP), Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).
       

      Table 5. Average fish abundance scores, by NRM marine region, GBR region, 2001 to 2017

      Fish species presence data were sourced from the Long-Term Monitoring Program (LTMP) produced by the AIMS. Data are collected across sites designed to monitor the impact of the 2004 re-zoning. The numbers of fish sighted in each sample area were averaged per reef and referenced against a list of 'easy-to-identify' species. The methods used depend on direct observations and the location of collections slightly change from year to year and this may impact on the reliability of estimates. Threatened species information is also presented in the Biodiversity section of this publication.

      Table 5 shows that the abundance of selected fish species has remained relatively stable across the majority of NRM marine regions between 2001 and 2017. The exception is the Burnett Mary NRM region, which experienced an overall decrease of 13% in the number of fish species recorded between 2001 and 2017, despite an increase of 35% in the number of species between 2013 and 2017. The Mackay Whitsunday NRM region recorded an increase of 8% in fish species over the period from 2001 to 2017, the largest increase among the NRM regions.

      Marine condition drivers

      The Reef condition is affected by factors related to climate change, including rising sea surface temperature, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, severe weather events and increased cyclone intensity, as well as pollutant run-off, crown-of-thorns outbreaks and other natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Below are statistics presented on some of the key drivers of marine condition. These help provide context in interpreting marine condition. Note that pollutant run-off (river loads) is explored in the Terrestrial Extent and Condition section.

      Sea surface temperature

      Graph 5 shows that 2016 recorded the highest sea surface temperature (SST) over the period of 2002-2016 in the GBR Region, with a yearly mean temperature of 26 degrees Celsius. The yearly mean sea surface temperature anomaly (SSTA) for 2016 was 0.83 degrees Celsius above the average long-term average (see Methodology). Data on sea surface temperature and sea surface temperature anomaly were sourced from the Bureau of Meteorology eReefs Marine Water Quality Dashboard. Refer to the Data downloads section for a time series (from 2002-2016) of this information.

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      Yearly (calendar years) mean sea surface temperatures for all water bodies for the GBR Region

      Source(s): Bureau of Meteorology, Commonwealth of Australia, eReefs Marine Water Quality Dashboard

      Severe weather events

      Severe weather events damage Reef health and, combined with floods, increase pollutant run-off. There has been a series of Severe Tropical Cyclones (Categories 3, 4 and 5) since 2000 that have severely impacted the GBR Region, particularly the marine habitats. From 1970 until 2006 (Cyclone Larry) there were no Category 5 cyclones recorded. However, there were five Category 5 cyclones between 2006 and 2015 (footnote 5) - these included cyclone Larry (2005-06 cyclone season), Hamish (2008-09), Yasi (2010-11), Ita (2013-14) and Marcia (2014-15), highlighting the increase in frequency and severity of storms in recent years.

      Crown-of-thorns starfish

      Crown-of-thorns-starfish (COTS) can cause declines in coral cover (footnote 4), particularly when COTS numbers increase over a relatively short period of time and the starfish consume coral tissues faster than the coral can recover. The figure below shows the proportion of COTS outbreaks per sampled reefs. In 2013, around 27% of the reefs sampled by AIMS had active outbreaks. There is evidence to suggest flood plumes and elevated nutrients exacerbate COTS outbreaks, by promoting plankton blooms (footnote 6). These blooms increase food supply for COTS larvae and other species (footnote 7). There is evidence that certain hydrodynamic circulation patterns on the GBR, caused by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), may also influence the occurrence of primary outbreaks. Predator removal is also hypothesised to contribute to COTS outbreaks. For example, the giant triton snail, humphead Maori wrasse, sweetlip emperor and starry puffer fish feed on the COTS. While these predators do not solely feed on COTS, predation pressure is thought to be an important factor in controlling COTS populations (footnote 8).

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      Crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks includes active and incipient outbreaks

      Source(s): Long-Term Monitoring Program (LTMP), Australian Institute of of Marine Science (AIMS)

      Footnotes

      1. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Water Quality Guidelines for Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, 2010, GBRMPA, Townsville, pg 68. 
      2. Thompson, A., P. Costello, J. Davidson, M. Logan, K. Gunn, and B. Schaffelke. 2016. Marine Monitoring Program. Annual Report of AIMS Activities 2014 to 2015– Inshore Coral Reef Monitoring. Report for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Townsville: Australian Institute of Marine Science.
      3. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. 2017, Final report: 2016 coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef, GBRMPA, Townsville.
      4. De'ath G, Fabricius KE, Sweatman H, Puotinen M. (2012). The 27-year decline of coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef and its causes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 190:17995-17999.
      5. Bureau of Meteorology, Commonwealth of Australia The Australian Tropical Cyclone Database
      6. Wooldridge SA, Brodie JE. (2015). Environmental triggers for primary outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 101(2): 805-815.
      7. Fabricius KE, Okaji K, De'ath G. (2010) Three lines of evidence to link outbreaks of the crown-of-thorns seastar Acanthaster planci to the release of larval food limitation. Coral Reefs 29: 593-605.
      8. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Crown-of-thorns-starfish, What is the problem?

      Terrestrial extent and condition

      The Terrestrial Extent and Condition section presents information on the extent and condition of the terrestrial landscape of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Catchment Area through the use of land accounts and river loads data.

      Land account

      As land use and land cover affect the provision of ecosystem services, measuring changes over time is critical in evaluating and monitoring trends in natural resource condition.

      Land use reflects both the activities undertaken and the institutional arrangements put in place for a given area for the purposes of economic production, or the maintenance and restoration of environmental functions (SEEA Central Framework 2012). Land cover refers to the observed physical and biological cover of the Earth’s surface and includes natural vegetation and abiotic surface (SEEA Central Framework 2012).

      In June 2017, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) published Land Account: Queensland, Experimental Estimates, 2011 - 2016 (cat. no. 4609.0.55.003), which featured an article Accounting for Land Changes in the Great Barrier Reef.

      This section expands upon the data presented in the Land Account by incorporating a matrix of land use and land cover to look at combined changes of land use and land cover over time. Integrating spatial data about land cover extent and condition means that ecosystem characteristics can be linked to economic agents (or units), which can be aggregated to industries (land use). Land cover provides information on the generation of ecosystem services, while land use provides the use of these services (Keith et al, 2016).

      The land use and land cover matrix in Table 1 shows that, between 2011 and 2016:

      • the land use category that increased the most was Livestock Grazing (a net increase of 166,726 ha). Livestock Grazing experienced increases from the land cover categories of Grasslands (474,817 ha) and Woody Shrubs (81,546 ha) and decreases from Rainfed Land (143,773 ha) and Trees (164,721 ha);
      • Extractive industries also experienced large net increases in land use area (69,583 ha), mainly from the land cover category of Grasslands (70,663 ha);
      • the Land Use category with the greatest decrease was Vacant Residential (a net decrease of 94,891 ha), with most of this decrease coming from the land cover of Trees (93,620 ha);
      • the Agricultural Cropping land use categories both experienced decreases. Land used for Sugar Cane decreased by 27,776 ha, mainly through decreases in Irrigated Land (11,868 ha), while 'All Other' Agricultural Cropping decreased by 83,874 ha, with decreases in Rainfed Land (37,767 ha) the major contributor;
      • land used for Residential purposes increased by 8,670 ha; most of this (86%) was converted from a land cover of Trees;
      • the land cover category that increased the most was Grasslands (a net increase of 611,335 ha); a large proportion of this was additions to the Livestock Grazing land use category (474,817 ha); and
      • the Wetlands land cover category, which includes flood plains and wetlands areas, recorded a decrease of 84,783 ha, however this was mainly due to the 2010-11 period experiencing floods; therefore, changes from this period of flooding to the relatively dry conditions of 2015 explain the decrease in the Wetlands land cover category over the two points in time. A similar story applies to the decrease in the land cover of Trees (379,053 ha), reflecting changes from a wet, green period in 2011 to the drier 2015 period. The scope of the land cover component of the Land Account only covers the period from 2010-11 to 2014-15.
         
      Download
       Dynamic Land Cover 2010-2011 and 2014-2015 change
      Land Use (30 June 2011 and 30 June 2016 change)Urban Areas & Extraction Sites (a)WaterbodiesWetlands (d)Irrigated LandsRainfed LandsGrasslandsWoody ShrubsTreesNo DataTotal (Land use)
      Residential156138229101847-302177 467258 679
      Commercial25-5-88-93353727-1 342-111-818
      Industrial38475228159838106646322 100
      Extractive industries801-164-2np74770 6631 411-3 809np69 583
      Infrastructure, Utilities and Community Services13np1np-70-69np542-68
      Agricultural Cropping - Sugar Cane-64-30159-11 868-5 176npnp-10 569-16-27 776
      Agricultural Cropping - Othernp-369-2 058-6 993-37 767-11 874101-24 772np-83 874
      Livestock Grazing-553-2 454-73 041-5 546-143 773474 81781 546-164 721449166 726
      Livestock – Special Purpose Structures15-118-1 335-229-1 504-1556-4 341--7 659
      Horticulture – Orchardsnp-137-1551 5992 998332np-319114 327
      Horticulture – Other-1-22761-11515--507-176
      Horticulture – Special Purpose Structural Improvementsnpnp-6-41-1 283npnp134np-1 917
      Forestry – Commercial Timber Production-30np-557-896-12 222npnp-23 448np-37 741
      Vacant Residential-234329-158-524-2 5072 18649-93 620-412-94 891
      Unallocated (b)6-593-532-1 221-3 7851 204558 01453 153
      Not classified (c)-430-7 314-1 095-9 12974 65710 375-67 923--
      Total (Land cover)--3 059-84 783-25 761-212 346611 33693 665-379 053--

      np - not available for publication but included in the totals where applicable, unless otherwise indicated
      - nil or rounded to zero (including null cells).
      Any discrepancies between totals and sums of components are due to rounding.
      a. Urban Areas & Extraction Sites is a static land cover type. These classes show no changes over time.
      b. This includes uses that could not be allocated to AVPCC.
      c. No land use information available.
      d. Wetlands includes flood plains and wetlands areas.
       

      Table 1. Land use and land cover matrix, net change (hectares), GBR catchment area, 2011-2016

      As mentioned above, in June 2017 the ABS published an updated Land Account for Queensland, which featured an article, Accounting for Land Changes in the Great Barrier Reef. Key findings from the article included:

      • the greatest total land use in the GBR Catchment Area was Livestock Grazing, which covered 67% of the total area in both 2011 and 2016; this type of land use also reported the largest increase in land area, from 32.2 million ha in 2011 to 32.4 million ha in 2016;
      • Residential land use was the largest contributor to unimproved land value within the GBR Catchment Area, accounting for 58% of total land value ($76.4 billion in 2016);
      • the largest decrease in land use area was attributable to Forestry – commercial timber production, at 38% or 37,741 ha. This land use decreased from 99,941 ha in 2011 to 62,200 ha in 2016, largely due to the reclassification of 33,546 ha to Livestock Grazing; note that this is a reclassification of primary land use and does not necessarily indicate a decline in forestry;
      • for land cover, the largest net change in broad land cover was for Grasslands, with an increase of 611,424 ha (from 11.5 million ha in 2010-11, to 12.1 million ha in 2014-15);
      • the land cover type which had the largest broad land cover was Trees, accounting for about two-thirds of the GBR Catchment Area in 2010-11 and 2014-15; and
      • Woody shrubs experienced the greatest percentage change of all broad land cover classes, with a 175% increase between 2010-11 and 2014-15 (53,469 ha to 147,133 ha).


      The Land Account also features regional information for Natural Resource Management Regions (NRMRs) - data are available in the Land Accounts datacube in the Data downloads section (Table 5-8). In 2014-15 about half (47%) of the total Rainfed lands in the GBR Catchment Area were located in the Fitzroy NRMR, followed by the Burnett Mary NRMR and the Burdekin NRMR, accounting for 26% and 11% respectively. In the same year, the Mackay Whitsunday NRMR reported the greatest area of Irrigated and Rainfed Sugar (38%), followed by the Burdekin NRMR (30%) and the Wet Tropics NRMR (23%). The Fitzroy NRMR reported the greatest area of Extraction Sites with 65,381 ha (74%) of the total Extraction Sites in the GBR Catchment Area.

      River loads

      Suspended solids (or fine sediment), nitrogen, phosphorus and pesticides have all been shown to negatively affect the quality of marine environments and represent important indicators on the influence of land-based activities on the downstream marine environment. Suspended solids, nitrogen and phosphorus are all naturally occurring river loads that have increased over time with human development of the GBR Catchment Area, while pesticides are all of anthropogenic origin.

      This section presents monitored load data for indicative river systems in the GBR Catchment Area over the period 2006-07 to 2014-15. The data in this section refer to load estimates at end-of-system sites in ten priority catchments (in the six GBR NRM regions) discharging into the GBR lagoon (see Methodology or more details). The selected catchments constitute around 80% (averaged over the reference period) of the total GBR Catchment Area. These catchments had previously been identified by the Reef Plan (2003) as high risk to the Reef in terms of contaminant exports and therefore they were recommended for priority monitoring. The ten catchments were also consistently monitored throughout the reference period and therefore suitable for a time series. Note that PSII inhibiting pesticides are the focus here, however recent monitoring of the GBR Catchment Area includes a broader range of pesticides.

      The 2013 Scientific Consensus Statement highlights that "the main land uses contributing pollutant loads are rangeland grazing for sediment, rangeland grazing and sugar cane for total nitrogen and total phosphorus, and sugar cane for PSII inhibiting pesticides."

      Please note that presented here are 'monitored' loads, as tracked by the Great Barrier Reef Catchment Loads Monitoring Program, rather than 'modelled' loads, as estimated by the Great Barrier Reef Catchment Loads Modelling Program, and reported in the annual Great Barrier Reef Report Cards. Monitored pollutant loads leaving catchments vary considerably from year-to-year, mainly due to differences in annual rainfall and runoff. Therefore, catchment modelling is used to estimate the long-term annual pollutant load reductions due to the adoption of improved land management practices. This removes the impact of factors such as climate variability. Research suggests time lags to monitor the improvements from land management practice change could range from years for pesticides, to up to decades for nutrients and sediments, due to the high level of climate variability.

      Tables 2 and 3 below provide annual estimates for four types of annual loads: total suspended solids (TSS), total nitrogen (TN), particulate nitrogen (PN) and total phosphorus (TP). Table 4 provides estimates of PSII inhibiting pesticides.

      This publication presents data for total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP), however users should note that these pollutants occur in particulate, dissolved inorganic and dissolved organic forms. The 2013 Scientific Consensus Statement on land use impacts on water quality and ecosystem condition notes that: "Overall, increased nitrogen inputs are more important than phosphorus inputs. Dissolved inorganic forms of nitrogen and phosphorus are considered to be of greater concern than dissolved organic and particulate forms as they are immediately bioavailable for supporting algal growth. Particulate forms of nitrogen and phosphorus mostly become bioavailable, but over longer time frames. Most dissolved organic nitrogen typically has limited and delayed bioavailability." For more detail on these key breakdowns of forms of nitrogen and phosphorus, please refer to the Reef Report Card 2015.

      The total amount of measured discharge for the monitored rivers in the GBR Catchment Area varied substantially between consecutive years in all NRM regions (Graph 1), highlighting the effects of rainfall over the period (see Graph 2). For mean annual rainfall for each NRM region see Table 4.1 in the Data downloads section.

      Download

      Source(s): Multiple sources, see Methodology.

      Download

      Table 2 below shows that the total amount of TSS and nutrient loads in the GBR Catchment Area all varied considerably between consecutive years in all NRM regions. A key reason for this volatility is the effect of rainfall and subsequent volume of river flow. For example, the 2010-11 flood events increased river loads across all NRM regions; however, loads returned to pre-flood levels by 2011-12 in most regions. The variability in loads between NRM regions is also driven by differences in catchment size and land use (Joo et al, 2012). Please note that these are monitored loads and do not account for the proportion of the load that is considered naturally occurring and not due to human development in the region.

      More than half of the total TSS and nutrient loads from the monitored catchment areas were discharged from the large inland Burdekin and Fitzroy NRM regions (predominantly grazing country).

      Download
      NRM RegionPollutant TypeUnit2006-072007-082008-092009-102010-112011-122012-132013-142014-15
      BurdekinDischargeGL8 99727 97029 4907 90734 75814 9924 0561 500890
       TSSTonnes6 503 00012 700 0009 614 0001 937 7986 200 0003 300 0002 500 000220 000700 000
       TNTonnes9 72432 81623 2836 41121 00011 0005 5008601 000
       PNTonnesnanana308011 0005 8003 100400620
       TPTonnes3 2409 1796 7212 2138 4003 4001 900160410
      Burnett MaryDischargeGL3587309678 8866297 358360730
       TSSTonnes05 0001 000146 7322 600 00015 0003 700 0001 30099 000
       TNTonnes32107311 26216 00040012 000100840
       PNTonnesnanana54210 0001107 30025350
       TPTonnes21021813 800472 9006150
      Cape YorkDischargeGL1 7623 6462 3502 9275 9601 1621 8272 6001 600
       TSSTonnes59 000211 000104 000173 214207 00046 000142 000140 00029 000
       TNTonnes7111 8141 0981 3265 600490na1 200690
       PNTonnesnanana65480140na400280
       TPTonnes841689815932087na17080
      FitzroyDischargeGL88512 0512 19310 96138 5377 2229 4581 6002 700
       TSSTonnes320 0004 751 000404 0003 563 5837 000 0001 300 0002 500 00052 000900 000
       TNTonnes1 17815 1972 01612 98936 0006 4009 3001 0003 200
       PNTonnesnanana4 29117 0003 0004 3002301 600
       TPTonnes4035 6716575 32115 0002 7003 7001601 300
      Mackay WhitsundayDischargeGL8661 3409111 3263 3711 2171 248580130
       TSSTonnes156 000255 000111 000373 818820 000210 000130 00035 0003 600
       TNTonnes9271 3788491 9294 1001 3001 000640120
       PNTonnesnanana9622 70082051021035
       TPTonnes1813261344881 0003002108614
      Wet TropicsDischargeGL12 18910 89517 1828 33624 73411 4118 15711 3204 900
       TSSTonnes615 000866 0002 405 000694 6512 820 000661 000587 000795 000343 000
       TNTonnes5 7916 3069 6375 41718 3007 8805 9006 2703 090
       PNTonnesnanana2 53610 9103 0501 9642 8101 550
       TPTonnes8208821 5608393 4301 133607967594
      Total Monitored AreaDischargeGL24 73455 98952 15632 424116 24636 63332 10417 96010 950
       TSSTonnes7 653 00018 788 00012 639 0006 889 79619 647 0005 532 0009 559 0001 243 3002 074 600
       TNTonnes18 36357 61836 91429 334101 00027 47033 70010 0708 940
       PNTonnesnanana11 47652 09012 92017 1744 0754 435
       TPTonnes4 73016 2369 1729 20131 9507 6679 3171 5492 548

      na not available
      TSS - Total Suspended Solids
      TN -Total Nitrogen
      PN - Particulate Nitrogen
      TP - Total Phosphorus
      Source: Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, Queensland Government
       

      Table 2. River loads by pollutant type and discharge, by NRM region, GBR catchment area, 2006-06 to 2014-15

      Table 3 below presents yields of TSS, total nitrogen and total phosphorus. Annual yields (loads per unit area) are useful for comparing exports of catchments of different areas. The yields were computed by dividing the annual load by the monitored catchment area.

      Although more than half of the TSS and nutrient loads from the monitored catchment areas were discharged from the large inland Burdekin and Fitzroy NRM regions (predominantly grazing country), the highest TSS and nutrient yields per unit area were produced in the wetter and proportionately more intensively cultivated Wet Tropics and Mackay Whitsunday NRM regions.

      Note that the updated Scientific Consensus Statement (2017) for the Reef, which was not available at the time of publication, will include a comprehensive analysis of loads monitoring and modelling.

      Download
      NRM regionPollutant TypeYield (a)2006-072007-082008-092009-102010-112011-122012-132013-142014-15
      BurdekinTSS(kg/km²)50 04297 73073 98214 91347 71525 39719 2401 6935 388
       TN(kg/km²)7525317949162854278
       PN(kg/km²)nanana2485452435
       TP(kg/km²)2571521765261513
      Burnett MaryTSS(kg/km²)-152304 46179 049456112 493403 015
       TN(kg/km²)1313848712365326
       PN(kg/km²)nanana173043222111
       TP(kg/km²)000611618805
      Cape YorkTSS(kg/km²)4 55616 2938 03113 39216 0043 55710 97910 8242 244
       TN(kg/km²)551408510343338na9353
       PN(kg/km²)nanana53711na3122
       TP(kg/km²)713812257na136
      FitzroyTSS(kg/km²)2 29734 1062 90025 60850 3029 34217 9653746 461
       TN(kg/km²)910915932594667723
       PN(kg/km²)nanana311222231212
       TP(kg/km²)341538108192719
      Mackay WhitsundayTSS(kg/km²)107 586175 86276 552251 729552 189141 41487 54223 5692 456
       TN(kg/km²)6399505861 2992 76187567343182
       PN(kg/km²)nanana6481 81855234314124
       TP(kg/km²)125225923296732021415810
      Wet TropicsTSS(kg/km²)46 06764 869180 15052 226212 01449 69644 13259 61825 737
       TN(kg/km²)4344727224071 376592444470232
       PN(kg/km²)nanana191820229148211116
       TP(kg/km²)61661176325885467345
      Total for Monitored AreaTSS(kg/km²)23 20256 95938 31720 89759 58916 77828 9923 7716 291
       TN(kg/km²)5617511289306831023127
       PN(kg/km²)nanana3515839521213
       TP(kg/km²)1449282897232858

      na not available
      TSS - Total Suspended Solids
      TN -Total Nitrogen
      PN - Particulate Nitrogen
      TP - Total Phosphorus
      Source: Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, Queensland Government
       

      Table 3. River loads by pollutant type by kilometre squared (yield), by NRM region, GBR catchment area, 2006-07 to 2014-15

      Pesticide loads

      The monitored annual loads of pesticides, represented by the suite of photosystem II inhibiting pesticides, including total diuron, ametryn, total atrazine, hexazinone and tebuthiuron, were calculated for the ten end-of-catchment sites across the six NRM regions. Note that the total pesticide load to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon is likely to be considerably larger, given that another 28 pesticides have been detected in the rivers, according to the 2013 Scientific Consensus Statement.

      Table 4 below displays the amount of pesticide loads for the monitored catchments in the NRM regions in the GBR Catchment Area. In 2014-15 the Fitzroy NRM region produced the largest amounts tebuthiuron. This could be attributed to the fact that the Fitzroy NRM region accounts for the majority of meat cattle production in the GBR Catchment Area and tebuthiuron is commonly used in such production. The Fitzroy region also reported the highest levels of atrazine for the majority of the period. The NRM regions with the highest monitored levels of diuron throughout the reference period were the Mackay Whitsunday and Wet Tropics regions. The Wet Tropics region also recorded the highest monitored levels of hexazinone in every year of the reference period.

      Note that pesticide loads provide an indication of the volumes of pesticides being transported from terrestrial sources, however, it is the concentrations of pesticides in an aquatic ecosystem that signify the magnitude of pesticide risk.

      Download
      NRM RegionPollutant TypeUnit2010-112011-122012-132013-142014-15
      BurdekinDischargeGL34 75814 9924 0561 500890
       Ametrynkgna242nana
       Atrazinekg723602406259
       Diuronkgna2829227
       Hexazinonekgnanana0na
       Tebuthiuronkg8102303089
      Burnett MaryDischargeGL8 8866297 358360730
       Ametrynkgnana27nana
       Atrazinekg20010310426
       Diuronkg621213009
       Hexazinonekg56671na11
       Tebuthiuronkg130287nana
      FitzroyDischargeGL38 5377 2229 4581 6002 700
       Ametrynkgnanananana
       Atrazinekg2 4001 00047038520
       Diuronkg13066983229
       Hexazinonekg27na5na18
       Tebuthiuronkg6 0008905 000140390
      Mackay WhitsundayDischargeGL3 3711 2171 248580130
       Ametrynkg7492862
       Atrazinekg530220460230140
       Diuronkg520140440540100
       Hexazinonekg13027934322
       Tebuthiuronkgna1nanana
      Wet TropicsDischargeGL24 73411 4118 15711 3204 900
       Ametrynkg171018nana
       Atrazinekg238211310344148
       Diuronkg379406840812235
       Hexazinonekg162148211142106
       Tebuthiuronkgna5nanana

      na not available
      Source: Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, Queensland Government
       

      Table 4. Pesticides by type and discharge, by NRM region, GBR catchment area, 2010-11 to 2014-15

      Biodiversity

      For the state of Queensland, all threatened fauna experienced a shift from having more species in the least threatened categories to having more species in the most threatened categories. For example, the number of Endangered species rose from 59 to 67 species while Near Threatened species decreased from 146 to 35 species.

      For threatened species in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Region, there were four extinctions and ten new species described between 1994 and 2017. Birds and Reptiles had little overall movement between threat categories; Mammals saw four extra species added to the Vulnerable category, Fish saw two species added to the Endangered category, and Invertebrates saw three species added to the Endangered category. Frogs fared worst of all with ten species added to the Endangered category, one species to the Vulnerable category and five species to the Near Threatened category. The primary threat to each faunal group was habitat loss and degradation; other key threats across all groups were feral species and climate change.

      Biodiversity is the variety of plant and animal life in a particular habitat, the different plants, animals and micro-organisms, the genetic information they contain and the ecosystems they form. Threatened species accounts can be used as an indicator of biodiversity in the broader ecosystem accounting context.

      The Great Barrier Reef Biodiversity Strategy 2013 and Great Barrier Reef Vulnerability Assessment 2007 both looked specifically at the vulnerability and status of key species and species groups in the GBR Marine Park.

      For the following summaries and species accounts of threatened species in the GBR Region, the differing threat categories used in state, national and international listings were broadly concorded to form a new set of categories for the purpose of comparison between the three geographical scales of the contributing datasets. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species (hereafter the ‘Red List’) is used for international listings of threatened fauna, the Commonwealth Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (hereafter the ‘EPBC’) for national listings, and the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992 (hereafter the ‘NCA’) for state listings.

      Table 1 presents a broad alignment of the categories from the three lists, from the most severe listing (grouped together as the revised category of ‘Extinct’) to species either being considered as of 'least concern' or not listed at all (grouped together as ‘Not listed’). Species in scope are those deemed threatened according to the NCA, with a distribution range within the GBR Region. Therefore species deemed threatened by either the EPBC or the Red List, but not by the NCA, were not considered.

      Download
      NCAEPBCRed ListRevised category
      Extinct in the WildExtinct Extinct in the WildExtinct Extinct in the Wild Regionally ExtinctExtinct
      EndangeredCritically Endangered EndangeredCritically Endangered EndangeredEndangered
      VulnerableVulnerableVulnerableVulnerable
      Near ThreatenedConservation DependentLower Risk Near ThreatenedNear Threatened
      Least Concern (unlisted)(unlisted)Data deficient Least Concern (unlisted)Not listed

       

      Table 1. Concorded categories for threatened fauna

      Graph 1 provides a snapshot comparison between state, national and international listings of species considered threatened for frogs, reptiles, birds, mammals and invertebrates, illustrating the reporting discrepancies between each of the lists.

      Download

      Graph 2 depicts changes for all Queensland faunal listings, from 2007 to 2015, and shows a shift from more species in the least threatened categories to more species in the most threatened categories. The number of species in the Near Threatened category decreased from 146 in 2007 to 35 to 2015, while the number of species in the Vulnerable category increased from 79 to 129 over the same period, and the number of species in the Endangered category increased from 59 to 67.

      Download

      Source(s): State of the Environment, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Queensland Government.

      Threatened species accounts

      Species accounts are often used as an indicator of biodiversity in ecosystem accounting. For this publication, threatened bird, reptile, mammal, fish and invertebrate species accounts have been prepared for the GBR Region. Species have not been separated into terrestrial and marine groups due to the difficulties separating species that inhabit both zones, such as species found in estuaries, or species that use different ecosystems depending on their life cycle stage.

      Species accounts enable understanding of movement between threat categories between two points in time (for example the number of species moving from a category of Endangered to Vulnerable). The threatened species accounts contained in this release present these changes according to additions and reductions for each threat category (Extinct, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened, Not Threatened and Not Listed) between 1994 and 2017.

      These accounts have been created for each key faunal group (for which data exists) in the GBR Region; they are based on the list of threatened species in the NCA, but fauna unsuitable for inclusion have been omitted. For example, the Percy Island Flying Fox has been omitted due to unclear taxonomic status and an uncertain identification of the specimen used to describe the species. Please refer to the Methodology for more details on omitted species. However, when a species falls into the category of Not Listed, this indicates that it appears on the NCA threatened species list but not on the Red List; for example, the Kroombit Tree Frog is listed as Endangered by the NCA, but is not currently on the Red List.

      For some threatened fauna there may be a lag in the detection of significant population declines. Sometimes there is a delay between when a species has been subject to significant threatening processes and when the subsequent extinction of that species resulting from the impact of this occurs; this is termed extinction debt. Species most vulnerable to extinction debt are usually long-lived species or species with specific habitat requirements. For example, individual animals may live for a long time without reproducing successfully, perhaps due to unsuitable breeding habitat, and the population would appear to be healthy; however, when those individuals die, the population suddenly experiences an irreversible downturn. Therefore, extinction debt should be taken into consideration when viewing threatened species accounts, as such accounts may take time to accurately reflect the true status of threatened species.

      Birds

      Download
       ExtinctEndangeredVulnerableNear ThreatenedNot ThreatenedNot ListedTotal Species
      Opening Stock Additions16665428
      From lower threat categories0301004
      From higher threat categories0003609
      Discoveries of new species0000000
      Rediscoveries of extinct species0000000
      Reclassifications0000000
      Updated assessments0000000
      New additions to list0111104
      Total additions04157017
      Reductions
      To lower threat categories0324009
      To higher threat categories0021137
      Reclassifications0000000
      Local extinction0000000
      Updated assessments0000011
      Total reductions03451417
      Closing Stock173611028

      Source: Nature Conservation Act (1992), Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Queensland; The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
       

      Table 2. Threatened bird species account for the GBR region, 1994-2017

      There were no significant movements between threat categories between 1994 and 2017 for threatened birds of the GBR Region. The only species of bird classified as extinct in this region is the Paradise Parrot, which was classified as extinct prior to the 1994 opening period, with the last confirmed sighting in 1927. Over the accounting period, three species were downgraded from the Endangered category, and four species were downgraded from the Vulnerable category.

      The main threats to the birds of the GBR Region are habitat loss and degradation, climate change, invasive species and coastal development. Some of the bird species included here are very mobile and sometimes have international ranges such as the oceanic and long-distance migratory species; therefore threats geographically external to the GBR Region also impact on this group of birds. For example, species like the Eastern Curlew have shifted to a greater level of threat between 1994 and 2017, partly because they are subject to threatening processes on their migration route and at their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere. Others like the endemic Regent Honeyeater have experienced an increased level of threat since 1994 due to local threatening processes. Some species have remained in the same threat category since 1994, like the Wandering Albatross, which is threatened by longline fishing practices.

      Mammals

      Download
       ExtinctEndangeredVulnerableNear ThreatenedNot ThreatenedNot ListedTotal Species
      Opening Stock Additions054201728
      From lower threat categories0020002
      From higher threat categories0010102
      Discoveries of new species0001012
      Rediscoveries of extinct species0000000
      Reclassifications0000000
      Updated assessments0000000
      New additions to list10238014
      Total additions10549120
      Reductions
      To lower threat categories0110002
      To higher threat categories0002068
      Reclassifications0000000
      Local extinction0000000
      Updated assessments0000088
      Total reductions011201418
      Closing Stock14849430

      Source: Nature Conservation Act (1992), Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Queensland; The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
       

      Table 3. Threatened mammals species account for the GBR region, 1994-2017

      Between 1994 and 2017, one species (the Bramble Cay Melomys) was declared extinct in 2016 and is a suspected casualty of climate change. While one species was downgraded from Endangered to Vulnerable, an additional five species moved into the Vulnerable category, bringing the closing stock for 2017 to eight species. Two new mammal species were described since 1994 - the Australian Snubfin Dolphin (in 2005) and the Silver-headed Antechinus (in 2013).

      General threats to the mammals of the GBR Region include habitat clearing and degradation, climate change and the impact of feral species. More specifically, these threats can include the destruction of mammal habitat such as forest, mangrove, and wetland habitats due to reclamation projects, marine aquaculture, tourist facilities and agricultural and urban development; mining; timber harvesting and forest management; inappropriate fire regimes; the creation of habitat fragments; and the degradation of habitat by livestock grazing. Climate change threats include increased drought frequency and severity, and increased storm occurrence and severity. Feral species pose threats such as the degradation of habitat, direct predation, and competition by animals such as feral cats, dogs, foxes, pigs, goats, and also weed invasion of habitat. Additionally, the disturbance of roosting sites (for bats), fatalities from roads and barbed wire fences, and shark nets (for dolphins) are threats.

      The worldwide hunting of whales has largely halted. For example, the Humpback Whale was close to extinction and was listed as Endangered as late as 1988. This species has since rebounded and was listed as of 'least concern' in 2008.

      Fish

      Download
       ExtinctEndangeredVulnerableNear ThreatenedNot ThreatenedNot ListedTotal Species
      Opening Stock Additions0020024
      From lower threat categories0200002
      From higher threat categories0000000
      Discoveries of new species0000101
      Rediscoveries of extinct species0000000
      Reclassifications0000000
      Updated assessments0000000
      New additions to list0020002
      Total additions0220105
      Reductions
      To lower threat categories0000000
      To higher threat categories0020024
      Reclassifications0000000
      Local extinction0000000
      Updated assessments0000000
      Total reductions0020024
      Closing Stock0220105

      Source: Nature Conservation Act (1992), Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Queensland; The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
       

      Table 4. Threatened fish species account for the GBR region, 1994-2017

      From 1994 to 2017 two species were added to the Endangered category; otherwise, little movement occurred between categories, with two species remaining in the Vulnerable category. Note that there are only low numbers of fish species listed.

      The main pressures on the threatened fish populations in the GBR Region are the loss and degradation of habitat. More specifically, this entails the development and modification of marine and freshwater habitats for residential, forestry and agricultural purposes. Other threats include fishing bycatch from both recreational and commercial fishing, aquarium collecting and competition from exotic species of fish.

      Reptiles

      Download
       ExtinctEndangeredVulnerableNear ThreatenedNot ThreatenedNot ListedTotal Species
      Opening Stock Additions057003446
      From lower threat categories0100102
      From higher threat categories0020002
      Discoveries of new species0100001
      Rediscoveries of extinct species0000000
      Reclassifications0000000
      Updated assessments0000000
      New additions to list0001405
      Total additions02215010
      Reductions
      To lower threat categories0200002
      To higher threat categories0010012
      Reclassifications0000000
      Local extinction0000000
      Updated assessments0010045
      Total reductions0220059
      Closing Stock057152947

      Source: Nature Conservation Act (1992), Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Queensland; The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
       

      Table 5. Threatened reptile species account, GBR region, 1994-2017

      The threatened status of reptiles in the GBR Region has remained fairly stable compared to other faunal groups between 1994 and 2017, with the addition of only one species to the Near Threatened category. No extinctions were reported during this period, however a newly-described species (the Gulbaru Gecko) was added to the Endangered category.

      The main threats specific to the GBR Region reptile population are habitat loss and degradation. Specifically this includes land clearing for agriculture and coastal development, and feral predators such as cats, foxes and cane toads. Inappropriate fire regimes, grazing and possibly climate change are also considerations. For marine turtles outside the GBR Region, fisheries bycatch and the collection of eggs and adults are a threatening process; this highlights the international importance of the GBR Region as a protected refuge for species that have an international range (for example, marine turtles).

      Frogs

      Download
       ExtinctEndangeredVulnerableNear ThreatenedNot ThreatenedNot ListedTotal Species
      Opening Stock Additions084031631
      From lower threat categories3300006
      From higher threat categories0002002
      Discoveries of new species0320106
      Rediscoveries of extinct species0000000
      Reclassifications0000000
      Updated assessments0201003
      New additions to list06323014
      Total additions314554031
      Reductions
      To lower threat categories0110002
      To higher threat categories033031120
      Reclassifications0000000
      Local extinction0000000
      Updated assessments0000033
      Total reductions044031425
      Closing Stock318554237

      Source: Nature Conservation Act (1992), Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Queensland; The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
       

      Table 6. Threatened frog species account for the GBR region, 1944-2017

      Between 1994 and 2017, six new species of frog were described; these were the Magnificent Brooding-frog in 1994, the Mountain Nurseryfrog in 1994, the Melville Range Tree Frog in 1997, the Cape Melville Boulder-frog in 1998, the Tapping Nurseryfrog described in 2004, and the Kuranda Tree Frog in 2007. In this same time period three frog extinctions were also recorded - the Northern Gastric Brooding Frog (2002), Southern Gastric Brooding Frog (2002), and the Southern Day-frog (2004). In addition, since 1994 ten species were added to the Endangered category, one to the Vulnerable category and five to the Near Threatened category. Only two frog species were downgraded in threat status during this period.

      The main overarching threats to this faunal group are the spread of the chytrid fungus (chytridiomycosis) and the loss and degradation of habitat. More specifically, threatened frogs are vulnerable to introduced animal species as predators and as degraders of frog habitat; introduced plants which choke out suitable habitat; water pollution and altered hydrology; increased nutrient loads and sedimentation; and inappropriate fire regimes. The introduction of the devastating chytrid fungus is a worldwide problem for amphibians which may be exacerbated by climate change.

      Invertebrates

      Download
       ExtinctEndangeredVulnerableNear ThreatenedNot ThreatenedNot ListedTotal Species
      Opening Stock Additions0002057
      From lower threat categories0200002
      From higher threat categories0000000
      Discoveries of new species0000011
      Rediscoveries of extinct species0000000
      Reclassifications0000000
      Updated assessments0100001
      New additions to list0000000
      Total additions0300014
      Reductions
      To lower threat categories0000000
      To higher threat categories0002013
      Reclassifications0000000
      Local extinction0000000
      Updated assessments0000000
      Total reductions0002013
      Closing Stock0300058

      Source: Nature Conservation Act (1992), Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Queensland; The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
       

      Table 7. Threatened invertebrate species account for the GBR region, 1994-2017

      Invertebrates are by far the most numerous faunal group, with approximately 300,000 species of land invertebrates alone estimated in Australia, and only 15% of these thought to be formally described (Australian Museum, 2009). This faunal group currently has very few species listed as threatened. Table 7 reflects the paucity of knowledge around this faunal group, rather than it being an informed assessment in having genuinely low numbers of threatened species.

      One new species, the Dulacca Woodland Snail, was described in 2010. Between 1994 and 2017, the Illidge’s Ant-blue and a species of crayfish were elevated to higher threat categories, and another species of crayfish had become Endangered. In terms of threats, the crayfish are vulnerable to localised impacts such as fire, habitat loss and over collection, the potential effects of climate change, and feral species, particularly cane toads. The Illidge’s Ant-blue is primarily threatened by the destruction of their mangrove habitat.

      Employment and business profile of the GBR region

      The Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan divides economic activity in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Region into “reef-dependent” and “reef-associated” activities. Reef-dependent activities include activities such as fishing and tourism, which are covered in detail elsewhere in this publication. Reef-associated industries are other economic activities which due to their proximity and nature, can impact on the Reef, but do not directly depend on the Reef.

      Some industries can impact the Reef due to their potential to degrade conditions in the Marine Park, either directly via runoff of pollution into the reef, or indirectly through their influence on the health and filtration capacity of terrestrial ecosystems. Among the activities of potential concern are agriculture, mining, manufacturing, construction, ports and shipping, and wastewater management. This publication does not identify a specific, prescriptive list of reef-associated industries.

      Most economic activities in the GBR Region are not directly “reef-dependent”. Other sections of this publication focus on specific industries that rely on terrestrial or marine ecosystem services. This section focuses on available small-area information to profile the economy of the region as a whole, with a focus on jobs and employee income. For all topics covered in this section, data cubes are available with more comprehensive tables, in the Data downloads section of the publication.

      Industries in the GBR region

      Major employing industries in the GBR Region include Health care and social assistance, Construction, Retail trade, and Mining.

      Data on employment by industry is sourced from the experimental Employee Earnings and Jobs dataset discussed in the Information Paper: Construction of Experimental Statistics on Employee Earnings and Jobs from Administrative Data, Australia, 2011-12 (cat. no. 6311.0), published by the ABS in 2015. This dataset was used to produce estimates covering numbers of jobs, earnings totals and multiple job holders. The October 2017 release of data from the 2016 Census will contain a range of employment statistics, including industry and occupation dimensions. This section also includes counts of businesses estimated according to the methodology used in Counts of Australian Businesses, including Entries and Exits (cat. no. 8165.0).

      While a time series is not currently available for the Employee Earnings and Jobs dataset, this section also refers to Estimates of Personal Income for Small Areas, which includes occupation (but not industry of employment), for some insight into the shape of employment in the region over recent years. Please refer to the Methodology for a more detailed description of the distinct concepts of industry and occupation.

      Download
       Total number of jobsTotal gross payments to employeeNumber of jobs held concurrently with another jobTotal gross payments to employees in jobs held concurrently with another job
      Industry'000s$m'000s'000s
      Agriculture, forestry and fishing28.9540.014.3205.0
      Mining29.92 341.512.7683.1
      Manufacturing52.02 523.814.5405.3
      Electricity, gas, water and waste services10.8722.71.858.7
      Construction63.42 894.422.8625.0
      Wholesale trade28.21 036.88.7161.1
      Retail trade68.41 495.824.5275.9
      Accommodation and food services54.0816.025.2225.6
      Transport, postal and warehousing36.81 654.311.3243.8
      Information media and telecommunications5.3166.51.825.5
      Financial and Insurance Services18.2496.18.2107.5
      Rental, hiring and real estate services15.5453.06.3105.4
      Professional, scientific and technical services36.31 555.514.2360.3
      Administrative and support services49.11 099.025.5378.8
      Public administration and safety46.72 077.413.4244.9
      Education and training57.01 981.322.9516.4
      Health care and social assistance69.22 565.722.7516.4
      Arts and recreation services7.8129.64.133.2
      Other services26.0785.79.6172.0
      Unknown3.177.91.521.1
      Total706.625 413.1266.05 365.0

      Table 1. Number of jobs and total gross payments to employees, total and in jobs held concurrently, GBR region, 2011-12

      Table 1 shows that the largest employing industries in the GBR Region in 2011-12 were Health care and social assistance with 69,200 jobs, followed by Retail trade (68,400), then Construction (63,400).

      In terms of payments to employees, Construction was the largest-paying industry, paying $2.9b. Healthcare and social assistance paid employees $2.6b and Manufacturing paid $2.5b. The highest-paying job in the region, calculated as a median, was in the Mining industry ($71,635) followed by Electricity, gas, water and waste services ($64,893) then Public administration and safety ($47,835).

      The industries with the highest proportion of jobs held concurrently with other jobs were Arts and recreation services (52%), Administrative and support services (52%) and Agriculture, forestry and fisheries (50%). These industries are often associated with part time, short term or seasonal labour, and in the case of Administrative and support services, likely reflects the employment of Census workers in the 2011-12 financial year. Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries in the GBR Region had a lower share of jobs held concurrently with other jobs (50%) than Australia as a whole (55%).

      Table 2 shows that compared to Queensland or Australia as a whole, the Mining, Construction and Agriculture industries were more heavily represented, with Mining contributing 9.2% of employment income in the GBR Region compared to 3.6% for total Australia.

      Accommodation and food services, and Transport, postal, and warehousing were somewhat more concentrated in the region than at a national level (3.2% compared with 2.9% and 6.5% compared with 4.8%, respectively). This appears consistent with the region's status as a major tourism destination. According to the Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account (cat. no. 5249.0), on a national level these industries are the two most strongly associated with tourism activity, with 42% and 13% of total industry activity associated with tourism, respectively. For example, tourist transportation activity would be expected to be strongly concentrated in areas such as the Reef catchment. "Scenic and Sightseeing Transport" and "Water Passenger Transport" are two fine-level industry classifications (ANZSIC classes) which would cover the operation of water craft for tourists in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park for purposes such as sightseeing, transport to islands or between towns, and fishing charters.

      Download
       Industry share of gross payments to employees in GBR RegionIndustry share of gross payments to employees in QueenslandDifference in industry income concentration, GBR Region compared with QueenslandIndustry share of gross payments to employees in AustraliaDifference in industry income concentration, GBR Region compared with Australia
      Industry%%%%%
      Agriculture, forestry and fishing2.11.11.01.01.2
      Mining9.24.34.93.65.6
      Manufacturing9.99.50.49.60.3
      Electricity, gas, water and waste services2.82.00.81.71.1
      Construction11.49.61.87.93.5
      Wholesale trade4.14.9-0.95.8-1.7
      Retail trade5.96.1-0.25.9-0.1
      Accommodation and food services3.23.00.22.90.3
      Transport, postal and warehousing6.55.90.64.81.7
      Information media and telecommunications0.71.2-0.52.1-1.4
      Financial and Insurance Services2.03.9-2.06.3-4.4
      Rental, hiring and real estate services1.81.9-0.11.70.0
      Professional, scientific and technical services6.19.1-3.09.9-3.8
      Administrative and support services4.35.1-0.85.7-1.3
      Public administration and safety8.28.6-0.48.8-0.6
      Education and training7.88.1-0.38.4-0.6
      Health care and social assistance10.111.7-1.610.2-0.1
      Arts and recreation services0.50.8-0.30.9-0.4
      Other services3.12.70.42.40.6
      Unknown0.30.30.00.30.0

      Table 2. Industry share of total gross payments to employees, GBR region, Queensland and Australia, 2011-12

      Business counts from taxation data show that there were fewer businesses operating in the GBR Region in June 2016 than there were in June 2012, however, it is not possible to infer a decline in economic activity from this reduction in business counts. The counts of Mining businesses should be treated with particular caution due to the difficulty of classifying large multi-national corporations to particular regional areas. The Mining industry has a high prevalence of both international ties and complex business structures that makes classifying the activity of these businesses at the regional level problematic. For example, there were around 250 Mining businesses based in Brisbane City in 2016 and over 350 in Sydney - Haymarket - The Rocks, and these are likely to relate to Mining operations in other parts of Australia.

      Download
      Industry20122013201420152016
      Agriculture, forestry and fishing19 95319 45919 76019 26319 126
      Mining737716659614591
      Manufacturing3 5713 4023 2923 2093 183
      Electricity, gas, water and waste services262250257267267
      Construction17 77516 97616 61516 12415 804
      Wholesale trade2 1011 9791 9481 8761 842
      Retail trade6 1955 8395 7205 5325 346
      Accommodation and food services4 0003 9274 0294 0344 027
      Transport, postal and warehousing6 0555 8705 8655 7105 512
      Information media and telecommunications381360373365370
      Financial and Insurance Services4 5664 6234 8125 0415 293
      Rental, hiring and real estate services9 6749 6169 7269 6129 519
      Professional, scientific and technical services6 7136 4886 4056 3076 209
      Administrative and support services3 3643 1423 1093 1203 103
      Public administration and safety279278276229235
      Education and training1 1171 0711 0681 0671 063
      Health care and social assistance3 7533 8254 0004 1694 368
      Arts and recreation services890849838820829
      Other services5 4025 2435 2705 1905 224
      Unknown1 3231 4331 059892963
      Total98 11195 34695 08193 44192 874

      Note: Counts of businesses are attributed to a single location only. Some large and complex businesses which operate in the GBR Region are attributed to another location and excluded from these counts, Please refer to Explanatory Notes for more detail.
       

      Table 3. Counts of businesses in GBR region, 2012-2016

      Business counts declined in most industries, with Health care and social assistance and Financial and insurance services the only industries to exhibit more than 2% growth in business counts.

      Using confidentialised personal income tax estimates as an indicator of industry activity suggests that between 2010-11 and 2014-15, Graphs 1 and 2 suggest that growth in resource activities, such as the Mining and Construction industries, may have exceeded those in commercial and services in the GBR Region. Between 2010-11 and 2014-15, the number of Clerical and Administrative Workers and Sales Workers declined in the GBR Region, at comparable but slightly higher rates than the decline in Queensland overall. Incomes for Sales Workers also grew more slowly than for the entire state of Queensland. On the other hand, numbers of Labourers and Technicians and Trades Workers grew strongly, and median incomes for Machinery Operators and Drivers experienced the fastest growth.

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      Finer “Sub-Major” level occupation data allows the identification of more industry-specific occupation groups. Among the 43 sub-major occupation groups, Table 4 shows that several among the top ten for median income growth were in groups associated with Mining and Construction sector activity. Construction and Mining Labourers in the GBR Region experienced median income increases from $59,283 to $77,871 between 2010-11 and 2014-15. This 30% increase was the largest of any Sub-Major occupation group across the five-year period. Construction Trades Workers (25%), and Electro-technology and Telecommunications Trades Workers (23%) also experienced strong growth in median incomes over the period.

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       2010-112011-122012-132013-142014-155 year median income percentage increase
      Sub-Major Occupation Group (ANZSCO)$$$$$%
      Construction and Mining Labourers59 28466 63573 12773 25076 87229.7
      Sales Support Workers20 43621 91923 97925 55126 29028.6
      Other Technicians and Trades Workers46 25450 50954 78457 32258 59126.7
      Electrotechnology and Telecommunications Trades Workers79 14685 60789 65292 86098 50324.5
      Factory Process Workers40 44843 67945 29947 74350 00023.6
      Storepersons42 54746 18149 09850 51052 54323.5
      Construction Trades Workers49 79455 31859 22759 15261 26623
      Other Clerical and Administrative Workers45 25748 74351 37952 39555 36722.3
      Automotive and Engineering Trades Workers75 76383 18286 49587 89291 16220.3
      Cleaners and Laundry Workers26 56528 44030 20030 81531 87920
      All employee income earners48 29151 98454 62755 45856 46316.9

      Table 4. Growth in median employment incomes, selected sub-major occupation groups, GBR region, 2010-11 to 2014-15

      Table 5 shows that the number of employees earning income in the highest median income growth occupation groups did not generally expand alongside incomes in these occupation groups. The number of Construction and Mining Labourers, Factory Process Workers and Construction Trades Workers all declined as median incomes rose. The largest growth in numbers of employees instead occurred in Chief Executives, General Managers and Legislators (23.5%) and Health and Welfare Support Workers (23.4%) with other health and social services, and commercial sector occupation fields, also growing in number.

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       2010-112011-122012-132013-142014-155 year employee number percentage increase
      Sub-major Occupation Group'000 psns'000 psns'000 psns'000 psns'000 psns%
      Health and Welfare Support Workers6.46.97.27.57.924.2
      Chief Executives, General Managers and Legislators11.512.513.113.614.222.8
      Health Professionals18.920.321.221.821.815.3
      Farmers and Farm Managers1.81.92.02.02.014.7
      Hospitality Workers11.611.912.212.513.213.6
      ICT Professionals1.41.61.61.61.613.1
      Other Labourers13.314.515.014.915.012.8
      Legal, Social and Welfare Professionals4.34.54.74.74.811.8
      Sports and Personal Service Workers4.54.64.84.85.011.2
      Hospitality, Retail and Service Managers12.012.613.013.113.311.1
      All employee income earners513.0540.1554.9556.9572.811.7

      Table 5. Growth in number of employees, selected sub-major occupation groups, GBR region, 2010-11 to 2014-15

      Recent trends in regional employment

      Overall, from 2010-11 to 2014-15, the total number of employees and the total sum earned increased at a faster rate in the GBR Region than for the state of Queensland at the start of the period, before slowing in 2014-15. Total income earned follows a similar trajectory.

      Growth in earners and in income was fastest in the far northern Cape York NRM region, followed by Fitzroy and the Wet Tropics regions. Cape York and Fitzroy were the only two regions where growth in employee income exceeded that of total Queensland across the period.

      Mining in focus

      Mining is not covered elsewhere in this publication as it is generally not an industry that relies on ecosystem inputs, but rather on abiotic mineral and energy resources. However, the Mining industry is reliant on ports and shipping for transport of its products, and these activities along the Reef coast benefit from substantial shore-line protection from the Reef itself. Mining is also identified in the Reef Plan 2050 as requiring management to mitigate risks to the Reef. A data gap exists in terms of systematic information on potential impacts by mining on the Reef either directly through water releases and other runoff, or indirectly through ports development and management. This will be explored in future releases.

      A majority of Queensland Mining employment (55%) was located in the GBR Region in 2011-12, the only industry for which this is the case. It is a significant industry in the region’s economy, more so than in many other parts of the State. The observed concentration of this industry exists even with the exclusion of fly-in-fly-out employees who may be working within the region but living outside, an exclusion which is inherent to the taxation datasets due to the residence reported on individual tax returns.

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      Industry%
      Agriculture, forestry and fishing48.1
      Mining55.3
      Manufacturing27.0
      Electricity, gas, water and waste services36.1
      Construction30.6
      Wholesale trade21.3
      Retail trade24.8
      Accommodation and food services27.4
      Transport, postal and warehousing28.4
      Information media and telecommunications14.6
      Financial and Insurance Services12.9
      Rental, hiring and real estate services24.1
      Professional, scientific and technical services17.3
      Administrative and support services21.9
      Public administration and safety24.6
      Education and training24.7
      Health care and social assistance22.2
      Arts and recreation services17.1
      Other services29.8
      Unknown24.8
      All industries25.8

      Table 6. Proportion of Queensland employment income earned, by industry, GBR region, 2011-12

      The GBR Region represents around one quarter of the Queensland economy, containing 26% of the jobs and 26% of the gross payments to employees in Queensland. By contrast, 57% of Queensland’s Mining jobs and 55% of employee income were derived from the GBR Region in 2011-12. Queensland’s Agriculture, forestry and fisheries industry is also quite concentrated in the region, with 45% of the jobs and 48% of the employee income. Other industries with a notable concentration include Electricity, gas, water and waste (36% of employment income and job numbers), and Other services (30% of employment income and 28% of jobs). Several commercial and services industries are under represented in the GBR Region compared to Queensland, including Arts and recreation services and Professional, scientific and technical services.

      A time series does not currently exist for the Employee Earnings and Jobs dataset - instead, reference can be made to small area Personal Income Tax data, which includes an occupation code, for further insight into the shape of the Mining industry's employment profile across recent years.

      Some finer-level occupation codes within the ANZSCO classification are assumed to map closely with Mining industry employment. Graph 3 indicates that the period 2011-12 to 2012-13 represented a peak period for employment of Mining-related workers in the GBR Region, followed by a flattening or decline in employee numbers in these occupation groups.

      Note that earnings from these Personal Income Tax data main occupations collectively equate to about 67% of all employee income earned in the GBR Region in the Mining industry in 2011-12. This means that while predominant, the coverage of the Mining Industry by reported occupations is not complete. The remaining third of Mining industry income will include; employees in other occupations working for employers within the Mining industry; secondary or non-main jobs held within the Mining industry; and misreported and inadequately reported occupation information.

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      All four groups show a roughly similar pattern of peak and then decline across the reference period but the timing of the peaks differed, suggesting structural shifts in Mining employment at different stages of the apparent regional Mining employment boom. Specifically, the four groups appear to peak successively across a three year period, beginning with Labourers, followed by Machinery Operators and Drivers and Professionals, then ending with Managers.

      Roughly three quarters of the employees classified in the strongly Mining-related occupations Graph 3 are Drillers, Miners and Shot Firers within the Machinery Operators and Drivers major group. By 2014-15, the number of these employees in the GBR had dropped back to nearly 2010-11 levels, after rising 11% to a peak in 2012-13. Numbers of Mining Engineers (within Professionals) also peaked around 2012-13, while Mining Production Managers peaked in 2013-14 and Other Construction and Mining Labourers' numbers peaked in 2011-12 and had dropped below 2010-11 levels by 2014-15.

      Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

      There are more than seventy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owner groups that have long continuing relationships with the Great Barrier Reef Region and its natural resources. The groups that express connections to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are situated along the Queensland coast, from the Torres Strait Islands in the north, to near Bundaberg in the south. Traditional Owners and their continuing connection to their sea country play an integral role in the health of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). The engagement of Traditional Owners in the management of the GBR and its biodiversity reflects and recognises past generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples for whom nature is inseparable from cultural identity. This section includes information on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' participation in economic activity within the GBR Region and participation in cultural activities associated with the Reef.

      We recognise the Traditional Owners of the Great Barrier Reef Region as custodians of these lands and acknowledge their management of and connection to the region's land and sea.

      Economic participation

      Investment in Reef health ensures ongoing economic benefits for Traditional Owners and partnerships with regional and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities can ensure that pressures on the Reef resulting from economic development are addressed in an effective and positive way. One of the objectives of the Department of the Environment and Energy's Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan is that Traditional Owners derive economic benefits from conservation and sustainable use of biological resources (EBO1, pg 47). This objective is supported by targets to increase the number of Traditional Owner service providers and viable businesses (EBT1, pg 47); and to increase the number of employment opportunities for Traditional Owners in sea country management and Reef-based industries (EBT2, pg 47).

      According to the 2011 Census, 41% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the GBR Region aged 15 years and over were employed, compared to 62% of non-Indigenous people. This difference is explained by both a higher unemployment rate (11% compared to 3.4%) and a greater proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (43% compared to 33%) not being in the labour force (Table 1). Note that the corresponding 2016 Census data was not available at the time of publication.

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      Labour force statusUnitsAboriginal and Torres Strait IslanderNon-IndigenousNot statedTotal
      Employed (a)% of persons41.361.67.057.2
      Unemployed (b)% of persons11.13.40.63.6
      Not in the labour force% of persons43.333.27.532.1
      Not stated% of persons4.31.884.97.1
      Total% of persons100100100100

      a. Employed includes people who worked full time, part time and away from work
      b. Unemployed includes people who are looking for full-time work or part-time work
      Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. No reliance should be placed on small cells.
      Source: 2011 Census of Housing and Population
       

      Table 1. Labour force status (%), by Indigenous status, GBR region, persons aged 15 year and over, 2011

      Of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people employed in the GBR Region, 4% were business owners and 94% were employees in 2011. One of the specialised park ranger positions is that of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Ranger. In 2011, 23% of all park ranger roles were held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, highlighting the role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people perform in sea-country management. In contrast, only 4% of the total employed population in the GBR Region is represented by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

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        Aboriginal and Torres Strait IslanderNon-IndigenousNot statedTotal
      Counts of persons('000)0.10.3-0.5
      Percentage of total%22.576.41.3100

      - nil or rounded to zero (including null cells).
      Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. No reliance should be placed on small cells.
      Source: 2011 Census of Housing and Population

      Table 2. Total employed park rangers, by Indigenous status for people aged 15 years and over, GBR region, 2011

      Cultural services

      Indigenous cultural services were described in the Information Paper: An Experimental Ecosystem Account for the Great Barrier Reef Region, 2015 (cat. no. 4680.0.55.001). These were summarised into the broad categories of:

      • cultural heritage: cultural practices, observances, customs and lore;
      • spiritual and religious: sacred sites, sites of particular significance, and places important for cultural tradition;
      • educational: stories, song lines, totems and languages;
      • knowledge: Indigenous structures, technology, tools and archaeology.
         

      Table 3 presents a snapshot of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' participation in cultural activities within the GBR Region. It shows that nearly two-thirds (65%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the GBR Region fished in 2014-15, highlighting the significance of the Reef ecosystem as a cultural site.

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      Cultural ActivityEstimatePercentage of total
       '000%
      Fished55.664.8
      Hunted15.217.7
      Gathered wild plants/berries12.514.6
      Made any Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander Arts or crafts15.818.5
      Performed any Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander music, dance or theatre13.515.7
      Written or told Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander stories9.711.3
      None of the above23.026.8
      Total85.8100.0

      Multiple response item. Sum of components may be great than total.
      Cells in this table have been randomly adjusted to avoid the release of confidential data. Discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
      Source: 2014-15 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey.

      Table 3. Participation in cultural activities by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons aged 15 years and over, GBR region, 2014-15

      Expenditure on environmental goods and services

      Environmental goods and services include a wide range of economic products that are used with the intent of protecting the environment or maximising the efficient use of resources. The Australian, Queensland and Local Governments have all undertaken expenditure in support of protection and management activities within the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Region. Private industry and households have also contributed to expenditures to protect the GBR Marine Park (the Reef). The range and extent of expenditures on environmental goods and services reflect various public policies and initiatives intended to protect and enhance the Reef. Data on these expenditures are therefore an important complement to data on the condition of the Reef, as both sets of data are required to assess the success of public policies and initiatives.

      Environmental goods and services statistics provide: indicators of the production of environmental goods, services and technologies; the contribution of this production within the economy as a whole; and the extent of related employment and investment (SEEA-CF, para 4.93).This publication tests the application of accounting for environmental goods and services and aligns its data outputs to the objectives and targets for investment as described in the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (the Plan). These are as follows:

      • EBO3: Reef-associated industries are planned and managed in such a way as to protect the Reef’s Outstanding Universal Value and are sustainable, productive and profitable.
      • EBO4: Reef-dependent industries are productive and profitable based on a healthy Reef and are ecologically sustainable.
      • EBT5: The relationship between Reef health and the viability of Reef-dependent Industries (e.g. tourism and fishing) is understood and considered in planning and development decisions.
      • WQO1: Over successive decades the quality of water entering the Reef from broadscale land use has no detrimental impact on the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.
      • WQO2: Over successive decades the quality of water in or entering the Reef from all sources including industrial, aquaculture, port (including dredging), urban waste and stormwater sources has no detrimental impact on the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.
         

      Table 1 presents expenditures on Environmental Goods and Services aimed at protecting the Reef, by type of good or service, as reported in the Reef 2050 Plan - Investment Baseline (footnote 1). Local government was the largest contributor to these expenditures, accounting for $229 million (46% of total), followed by the Australian government with $145 million (29% of total), Queensland government $78 million (16% of total) and non-government sources $41 million (8% of total). Please note that for local government and non-government sources, these are estimates only.

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      Environmental goods and servicesAustralian GovernmentQueensland GovernmentLocal GovernmentNon-governmentTotal
      Environment specific services (a)110.167218.911.7403.8
      Integrated technologies (b)31.8112.633.578.9
      Sole-purpose products (c)nanananana
      Adapted goods (d)nanananana
      End-of-pipe technologies (e)nanananana
      Total environmental goods and services expenditure (f)145.478228.941.3493.6
      Intermediate consumptionnanananana
      Gross value addednanananana
      Compensation of employeesnanananana
      Gross fixed capital formationnanananana
      Imports for environmental goods and servicesnanananana
      Exports of environmental goods and servicesnanananana
      Employment (thousands of people)nanananana

      na – data not available.
      Any discrepancies between totals and sums of components in this publication are due to rounding.
      a. Environment specific services are environmental protection and resource management specific services.
      b. Integrated technologies are technical processes, methods or knowledge used in production processes that are less polluting and less resource-intensive than the equivalent “normal” technology used by other national producers. Their use is less environmentally harmful than relevant alternatives.
      c. Sole-purpose products are goods (durable or non-durable) or services whose use directly serves an environmental protection or resource management purpose and that have no use except for environmental protection or resource management.
      d. Adapted goods are goods that have been specifically modified to be more “environmentally friendly” or “cleaner” and whose use is therefore beneficial for environmental protection or resource management.
      e. End-of-pipe (pollution treatment) technologies are mainly technical installation equipment produced for measurements, control, treatment and restoration/correction of pollution, environmental degradation, and/or resource depletion.
      Source: Reef 2050 Plan - Investment Baseline, June 2015, Department of the Environment and Energy, Commonwealth of Australia.
      f. Data is an estimate only for Local Government (where some organisations reported expenditure data differently) and for Non-Government (where some organisations were unable to provide a complete response for inclusion in the baseline).
       

      Table 1. Expenditure on environmental goods and services in the GBR region ($m), 2014-15

      An estimated $79 million (16% of total expenditures) was allocated to ‘Integrated technologies’ or production processes to improve water quality in 2014-15. An example of this type of investment was, for example, on programs designed to promote best agricultural management practices. However, the majority of expenditures, $404 million (84% of total expenditures), addressed ‘Environment specific services’ related to the Reef. These services include such things as monitoring of catchment loads and Crown-of-thorns starfish control programs. 'Environment specific services' are intended for the purposes of protecting the environment and the efficient use of natural resources.

      Footnote

      1. While the primary data source used in this section is described as an ‘Investment Baseline’, ABS discussion throughout this section refers to ‘expenditure’ rather than ‘investment’. Investment has a specific meaning in environmental-economic accounting and relates solely to spending on capital goods i.e. goods that have an ongoing use over an extended time period. Some of the expenditures contained in the Investment Baseline are current expenditures. 

      Tourism cultural services

      Tourism has become the largest economic activity in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (the Reef), and a major economic activity in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Region. A significant share of Tourism activity in the region is related to the Great Barrier Reef and natural features such as beaches, rivers and rainforests also feature prominently among the region's attractions.

      Tourist expenditure is far higher in the Wet Tropics natural resource management region (NRMR) than elsewhere even though visit numbers are not proportionately higher. This reflects the status of Cairns as a major point of origin for marine tourism activity in the Reef, especially for international travellers.

      Tourism and cultural ecosystem services

      Tourism activity that is dependent on ecosystems is considered to derive a "cultural ecosystem service" from nature. Some cultural services provide direct contributions to economic activity, such as tourism and recreational services. The local, non-tourism recreational use of these ecosystems is also an important feature of the amenity value of the Reef and GBR Region but is not quantified in this publication due to lack of available data.

      Other cultural services are implicit in the values placed on land ownership. An example is the utility people derive from the landscape, including the value of a scenic view, or the spiritual connection of indigenous peoples to land. Many cultural services are therefore difficult to measure as exchange values. For discussion of the importance of the region's ecosystems to traditional owners, see the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples section of this publication.

      This section covers both the terrestrial and marine domains of tourism activity in the GBR Region.

      Tourism satellite accounts

      This publication describes tourism activity and identifies factor inputs to overall tourism activity, but does not identify a specific contribution by ecosystems to tourism in the GBR Region.

      Tourism is a conventional economic activity within scope of the System of National Accounts (SNA) but is defined by consumer rather than by industry classification. Tourism activity is reported within the ABS with a Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) (Australian National Accounts: Tourism Satellite Account (cat. no. 5249.0)). Estimates in this section are derived as a regional proportion of the estimates contained within the TSA.

      Intangible inputs to tourism activity (including ecosystem services inputs, but not exclusively) have been estimated through the calculation of 'tourism rent' in the terrestrial domain. Ecosystem contribution is not explicitly identified as a factor of production in the SNA or the TSA. It will instead be reflected within estimates of economic rent, which is the residual calculated after known factors of production are deducted from gross output. This residual is labelled 'tourism rent' and is analogous to the resource rent observed when businesses extract economic benefit from the ownership of assets (with the difference being that tourism-related businesses do not generally own the tourist-attracting resources). Refer to the Methodology for details on this calculation.

      Estimates for the marine domain are derived from an exchange value for offshore tourism access to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The section also provides some contextual information around onshore tourism activity, such as Tourism Direct Gross Value Added and regional tourism employment.

      Terrestrial tourism services

      Table 1 describes the size and economic contribution of tourism in the GBR Region over the period 2007-08 to 2015-16. The table presents estimates for aggregates such as tourism direct gross value added, direct tourism employment and direct tourism consumption.

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      Selected IndicatorsUnits2007-082009-102011-122013-142015-16
      Direct tourism consumption (a)$m8 387.98 395.69 066.28 976.19 962.4
      Tourism direct GVA (a)$m2 890.53 011.13 275.93 225.43 815.5
      Tourism rent (a) (b)$m332.6320.7404.2470.0594.8
      Tourism rent as share of tourism GVA%11.510.712.314.615.6
      Direct tourism employment'00049.446.646.743.545.6
      Tourism employment as share of employed persons%nana8.67.8na
      Tourism GVA per tourism employee (a)dollars58 493.664 557.570 120.274 148.683 588.0
      Tourism rent per tourism employee (a) (b)dollars6 731.46 876.68 651.910 805.313 030.5
      Number of visitorsmillions15.215.014.517.317.8
      Tourism direct GVA per visitor (a)dollars189.9201.1225.2186.0214.3
      Tourism rent per visitor (a) (b)dollars21.921.427.827.133.4
      Number of visits to Marine Parkmillions1.91.91.82.02.3
      Marine Park visitors as share of GBR Region visitors%12.612.812.711.812.9

      na - not available
      GVA - Gross Value Added
      a. Current prices
      b. Tourism rent is calculated via resource rent method, refer to Methodology for details
      Sources: See the complete list on the Methodology page
       

      Table 1. Tourism, GBR region, 2007-08 to 2015-16, selected indicators

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      Table 1 shows the number of visitors to the GBR Region increased from 15.2 million in 2007-08 to 17.8 million in 2015-16. This change is reflected in the value of direct tourism consumption, which increased from $8.4b to $10.0b.

      Tourism rent increased from 12% to 16% of tourism GVA. This means that tourism output rose faster than the cost of human inputs such as labour, materials, produced capital and finance. In other words, tourism obtained an increasing share of value from inputs by tourism attractions, including from ecosystems. Due to the nature of economic rent with regards to tourism activity, this does not define the specific ecosystem service contribution to tourism. Non-market contributors to tourism are much wider than just ecosystems. The relationship between tourism and ecosystem services varies widely by area, such that an estimate of tourism rent does not necessarily equate to an estimate of ecosystem rent. A large share of tourist activity in the GBR Region is dependent on the region's terrestrial and marine ecosystems, very likely a much greater share than for tourism in a major urban centre. Nonetheless, tourism rent will contain more than just ecosystem services input.

      Tourism employed about 46,000 people in 2015-16, and between 2010-11 and 2014-15, tourism employment averaged about 8.2% of total employment in the Great Barrier Reef Region (note that the Data Cubes of this publication contain a fuller time series than the tables of this section). This would make tourism, if counted as an industry, one of the more significant employing industries in the region. As a comparison, Education and Training jobs made up about 8.1% of total jobs in the region in 2011-12. For more context on the structure of employment and businesses by industry and occupation, refer to the Employment and Business profile section.

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      Total2007-082009-102011-122013-142015-16
      NRM Region$m$m$m$m$m
      Burdekin913.7935.3923.51 001.61 239.3
      Burnett Mary1 066.61 128.71 338.11 288.11 245.0
      Cape York126.994.1111.5102.5130.8
      Fitzroy1 033.7927.81 090.5998.71 174.2
      Mackay Whitsunday1 023.91 207.01 085.81 118.0978.8
      Wet Tropics2 710.02 527.82 605.62 678.63 208.6
      Total GBR Region6 874.86 820.87 155.07 187.57 976.7

      Sources: International Visitors Survey (IVS) and National Visitors Survey (NVS), Tourism Research Australia (TRA).
       

      Table 2. Tourism expenditure, by NRM region, GBR region, 2007-08 to 2015-16, current prices

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      Table 2 shows tourism expenditure by NRM region in the GBR Region. The Wet Tropics NRM region recorded the highest tourism expenditure each year through the reference period. The Wet Tropics NRM is centred around Cairns, one of the major launching point for tours to the Great Barrier Reef, and also includes Port Douglas, another major location for tour launches. The Great Barrier Reef is quite close to the shoreline in this part of the catchment compared to further south. In addition to the Reef, this region includes the World Heritage listed Wet Tropical Rainforests.

      Visitors made longer trips (an average of 3 nights per visitor) with greater expenditure per trip than to NRM regions further south. Wet Tropics NRM region receives over three times as many international visitors as any other NRM region. All of this paints a picture of the Wet Tropics region as an area attracting higher expenditure than in other NRM regions with comparable or greater numbers of total visitors, thanks in part to its positioning as a well-known destination specifically for ecosystem related attractions.

      The fastest growth in tourism expenditure (36%) was in the Burdekin region, in which is located the GBR region's largest city, Townsville. However in contrast to the Wet Tropics region centred around Cairns, the Burdekin NRM region receives far fewer international visitors and Townsville receives far fewer visitors than Cairns who stay in hotels rather than with friends or family.

      Table 2 shows that tourism expenditure in the Mackay Whitsunday region declined by 4.4% in current prices terms between 2007-08 and 2015-16, and the fuller time series available in Data Cubes also shows a decline of 19% from peaks in 2009-10 and 2012-13. This decline has been driven by domestic visitors, as international visitor expenditure continued to grow. As shown in Table 3 below, visitor numbers fell from 1.8 million in 2007-08 and 2.0 million in the 2009-10 peak, to 1.7 million in 2015-16. In addition, the average nights spent in the region per visitor fell from 3.1 to 2.7.

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      NRM RegionUnits2007-082009-102011-122013-142015-16
      BurdekinVisitors (millions)2.32.52.42.83.2
       Visitor nights (millions)5.55.46.15.66.5
       Nights per visitor2.42.12.52.02.0
      Burnett MaryVisitors (millions)4.75.26.15.65.5
       Visitor nights (millions)8.58.48.97.99.0
       Nights per visitor1.81.61.51.41.6
      Cape York (a)Visitors (millions)0.10.10.10.20.2
       Visitor nights (millions)1.21.00.71.01.0
       Nights per visitor9.77.85.84.94.2
      FitzroyVisitors (millions)3.33.53.63.23.4
       Visitor nights (millions)5.66.76.76.87.4
       Nights per visitor1.71.91.92.12.2
      Mackay WhitsundayVisitors (millions)1.82.02.01.91.7
       Visitor nights (millions)5.64.95.75.04.7
       Nights per visitor3.12.42.92.62.7
      Wet TropicsVisitors (millions)4.24.14.64.14.8
       Visitor nights (millions)13.113.812.413.314.7
       Nights per visitor3.13.42.73.23.0
      Total GBR RegionVisitors (millions)15.216.417.816.917.8
       Visitor nights (millions)39.640.240.639.543.2
       Nights per visitor2.62.42.32.32.4

      a. Cape York estimates are based on a smaller sample size and visitor estimates should be treated with caution.
      Sources: International Visitors Survey (IVS) and National Visitors Survey (NVS), Tourism Research Australia (TRA).
       

      Table 3. Visitors and visitor nights, by NRM GBR region, 2007-08 to 2015-16, numbers (millions)

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      Table 3 shows the number of visitors and the length of time (visitor nights) spent in the region and Graph 2 illustrates visitors change over time compared to the base year of 2006-07. Visitor numbers grew across the decade in every NRM region except Mackay Whitsunday where visitor numbers were over 20% lower in 2015-16 than in 2006-07. Cape York NRM region visitor numbers increased markedly after 2012-13 (by over 50% above the base year) compared to previous years. This however is based on a small sample of survey respondents and should be treated with some caution.

      The average number of visitor nights per visitor in the entire GBR Region declined from 2.6 nights in 2007-08 to 2.4 in 2015-16, however, visit length in the Fitzroy region increased from 1.7 to 2.2 nights per visitor. The most visited region was Wet Tropics, which also reported far greater tourist expenditure than other regions.

      Over the ten year period, visitors spent the least time, on average, in the two southernmost NRM regions of Burnett Mary and Fitzroy. Average stay lengths tended to be longer further north, with the Wet Tropics having the highest ten-year average number of visitor nights per visitor aside from Cape York.

      Marine park tourism

      The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority levies an Environmental Management Charge (EMC) on users of the park engaging in tours and other experiences with registered operators. The EMC is collected by tourism operators from visitors to the Marine Park, and is paid to the Commonwealth Government. It contributes to the management of the Marine Park, and is applied differentially by the type of visit undertaken. Note that the actual charge value has changed through the time series.

      Table 4 below shows the number of visits to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park over the period 2007-08 to 2015-16. The table also shows the value of total revenue collected through the EMC in the same period. The number of visits to the Marine Park increased from 1.9 million to 2.3 million across the reference period. The value of revenue collected in the Marine Park increased by 20 per cent from $7.3 million to $8.8 million in the same period, due to gradual increases in part-day and full-day charges. From 2012, the EMC charged by operators was reduced for three years, being offset by the Commonwealth Government. The data reported includes both components of the Environmental Management Charge.

      Table 4 compares visitor numbers to the Marine Park with total tourist visits to the GBR Region. This comparison is presented to provide information on the relative scale of Reef tourism relative to GBR Region tourism. Note that there are scope differences which inhibit precise comparison. Some customers of registered operators are likely to be locals whose activity does not fall within scope of tourism surveys. Additionally, for the purpose of this account, each charge is counted as a visit to the park, though users are reminded that this does not indicate 'people day' visits. For example, one visitor may be charged more than one fee per day depending on the types of visits they are engaging in. Regardless, bearing in mind these scope differences, comparison of Marine Park EMC data and GBR Region tourism visitors suggests that over 1 in 10 visitors to the GBR Region may be visiting the Marine Park itself.

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      Selected Indicators2007-082009-102011-122013-142015-16
      Number of visits (million)1.91.91.82.02.3
      Value of charges ($m) (a)7.37.37.37.88.8
      Number of visitors to GBR Region (millions)15.215.014.517.317.8
      Visitors to Marine Park as a share of visitors to GBR Region (percentage)12.612.812.711.812.9

      Sources: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), International Visitors Survey (IVS) and National Visitors Survey (NVS), Tourism Research Australia (TRA).
      a. Current prices.
       

      Table 4. Tourism, Great Barrier Reef marine park, 2007-08 to 2015-16

      The EMC is a source of funding to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and is therefore contributing to the totals within the Expenditure on Environmental Goods and Services section of this publication. These two views approximate a "supply and use" relationship wherein on the "supply side" the EMC represents a valuation of the Reef as a source of tourism cultural ecosystem services. On the "use side", the revenue derived from this value to tourists is invested back into maintaining the Reef.

      Conceptually, the EMC should be considered as an entirely additional source of ecosystem service valuation, rather than as a component of Tourism Rent as discussed in this chapter. However in practice, the EMC impacts regional expenditure apportionment and thus is likely to have very slightly inflated the estimates of tourism in the region. Regardless of this, EMC is still considered to be a mostly additional measure of tourism ecosystem service valuation.

      Fishing and aquaculture

      Fishing and aquaculture are important economic and social activities in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Region. This section provides information on current structure and major trends in data on commercial, charter and harvest fishing, as well as aquaculture. While there is some data available on recreational fishing in the GBR Region, it is not included in this publication.

      Commercial and harvest fishing within the GBR World Heritage Area is part of the East Coast Fishery area in Queensland. Fishing methods used include line, net, pot, otter trawl and beam trawl, along with various harvest methods. Species targeted in the area include Spanish mackerel, coral trout, sharks, crabs, scallops, bugs, barramundi, sea cucumber and aquarium fish.

      Ecosystem services inputs significantly contribute to the value of fishing and aquaculture production, alongside human inputs such as labour and capital. This contribution includes the habitat for fish, breeding stock and water quality. Ecosystem services such as these are inputs into gross catch and to conditions required for aquaculture farms. This publication presents estimates of ecosystem value for the fishing and aquaculture industries, referred to as resource rent.

      Fishing

      In the GBR Region the ecosystem services input (calculated via the resource rent method) of fishing increased by 62%, from $28 million to $45 million, between 2004-05 and 2014-15. The full time series from 2000-01 to 2015-16 is presented in the Data downloads section.

      As seen in Table 1 the value of fishing production decreased by 46%, from $190 million to $104 million, from 2001-02 to 2015-16. Physical production decreased by 46% from 15,341 tonnes to 8,259 tonnes over the same period. Licence numbers and fishing effort also decreased, by 52% and 45% respectively.

      Between 2003-04 and 2004-05 the value of fishing production in the region fell by $45.7 million (25%). Over the same period, there was also smaller a decrease in tonnes produced (down by 27%), number of licences (down by 16%) and fishing effort in person days (down by 22%). Production per person day of effort was largely unchanged during this transition.

      In 2004 there was a rezoning of the Marine Park and a number of commercial fishing licence quotas, across all fisheries, were bought out by the Commonwealth government. Since 1999, commercial fishing in the Reef has also been affected by many other drivers contributing to the decrease. These include; changes to management arrangements in the Trawl and Reef Line fisheries; implementation of net-free areas; the high value of the Australian dollar reducing export profits; higher fuel prices; cheap imported seafood competing with local product; the higher salaries in Mining industry for mechanically skilled staff; and an ageing workforce with fewer new fishers entering commercial fishing than older fishers retiring.

      With the reduction in fishing production, the abundance of species observed in the Marine Park has been well maintained, exhibiting fluctuations in year to year observations but with no clear decline trend. Fish species abundance observed within the Reef is a measure of marine condition, for more discussion of fish species abundance within that context, refer to the section on Marine Extent and Condition.

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      Selected IndicatorsUnit2001-022003-042005-062007-082009-102011-122013-142015-16
      Fishing production (a)tonnes15 34115 46210 40410 96711 5259 0528 8898 259
      Gross Value of Production (GVP) (b)$ million190180128118126100116104
      Gross Operating Surplus (GOS) (b)$ millionnana6665676165na
      Ecosystem Services Input (b) (c)$ millionnana3635424446na
      Ecosystem Services Input as percentage of GOS (c)%nana54%53%62%73%72%na
      Commercial fishing licensesnumber1 4811 3921 1171 024984888850860
      Fishing effortperson days141 363135 14295 09685 86284 98876 25876 69077 512
      GVP per person day$1 3441 3341 3441 3781 4821 3141 5101 336

      na -not available
      a. Production is the total harvest wild fish caught within the GBR Region
      b. Current prices
      c. Ecosystem Services Input calculated via the resource rent method
       

      Table 1. Fishing industry, selected indicators, GBR region, 2001-02 to 2015-16

      Graph 1 below presents the physical production of all NRM region marine extensions in tonnes for the period 2001-02 to 2015-16. The table shows that production in all regions decreased over this period, although there was significant variance in production by weight across these regions. Fishing production in the Fitzroy NRM region marine extension recorded the largest decrease (61%), from 3,738 tonnes to 1,474 tonnes.

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      Figure 1 shows changes in physical production over the reference period using data at a smaller geographic area. Most areas have recorded decreases in physical production over the time period, which includes the re-zoning and changes in quota as described above.

        Figure 1. Change in fishing production volume, GBR marine park, 2000-01 to 2015-16

        Figure 1. Change in fishing production volume, GBR marine park, 2000-01 to 2015-16

        Figure 1. Change in fishing production volume, GBR marine park, 2000-01 to 2015-16

        Image of a map showing the change in fishing production volume in the Great Barrier Reef marine park from 2000-01 to 2015-16.

        Within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the map shows the percentage change ranging from less than -75% to more than 235%, the Great Barrier Reef terrestrial region, outside area of interest and area of no data.

        Source: Queensland Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
        NRM regions - Department of Environment, Cape York region and GBRMP boundary Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

        Graph 2 below presents fishing data for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) Management Sectors. This graph provides an alternative view of the spatial distribution of fishing production in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The majority of fishing production in the northern half of the Marine Park is from the Northern Inshore Management Sector (between 78% and 91% over the period 2001-02 to 2015-16), while further south, production is more evenly spread between inshore and offshore areas.

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        Source(s): Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QLD DAF)

        The two southern sectors contain most fishing production, accounting for between 69% and 78% of total production between 2001-02 and 2015-16. All sectors recorded a decrease in the production of fish over the reference period, with the largest change in the Northern Offshore Sector, recording a decrease of 71%.

        Aquaculture

        Data on aquaculture production is only available for the total GBR Region.

        Between 2004-05 and 2011-12 the ecosystem services input, or resource rent, of aquaculture in the GBR Region decreased by $3.7 million (26%). In the following year it increased by 55% to $25 million, before dropping to $21 million in 2014-15.

        Aquaculture production almost doubled over the period from 2001-02 to 2013-14, increasing in value by 103% and in volume by 93%. This resulted in an increase of 5% in the value aquacultural production per kilogram of products harvested across the accounting period.

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         Units2000-012002-032004-052006-072008-092010-112012-132014-15
        Productiontonnes2 4853 5753 9574 3494 2715 4935 0646 662
        Gross Value of Production (GVP) (a)$ million35.638.148.849.958.962.860.686
        Gross Operating Surplus (GOS) (a)$ millionnana282830272739
        Ecosystem Services Input (a) (b)$ millionnana14.714.616.311.31721.1
        Ecosystem Services Input as percentage of GOS (b)%nana525254426355

        na - not available
        a. Current prices
        b. Ecosystem Services Input calculated via the resource rent method
         

        Table 2. Aquaculture industry, selected indicators, GBR region, 2000-01 to 2014-15

        Agriculture and forestry

        The Agriculture and Forestry industries are key components of the economy of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Catchment Area. The terrestrial ecosystem services that support the Agriculture and Forestry industries include the capture, storage, and cycling of soil water and nutrients and pollination. These contribute to the production and harvest of crops, fodder for livestock and generation of plantation stock. This section presents physical production and value of production for key agriculture and forestry outputs. Ecosystem services input is also presented, which estimates the monetary value of the ecosystem services provided for the production of outputs.

        Agriculture

        The value of ecosystem services input (measured as resource rent) into food and materials production in the GBR Catchment Area rose from $205 million to $1,227 million over the period of 2007-08 to 2014-15. The value of ecosystem services to these industries was approximately 12% of gross operating surplus (GOS) in 2007-08, increasing to 44% in 2014-15. The rise in the ecosystem services input estimate was due to the rise in production, without the cost of human inputs increasing as significantly. This led to growth in both GOS and the residual attributed to ecosystems. In the case of agriculture, the end of the Millennium Drought resulted in increased productivity of the land, providing more ecosystem services inputs such as water, pollination and soil nutrients, as well as reducing the human inputs required to produce a given quantity of agricultural outputs. In addition, since the Global Financial Crisis, interest rates in Australia were lower than previously set. Lower lending rates led to produced capital being cheaper to purchase, finance cheaper to service, and greater economic rent was extracted from a given productive activity while being sold at a given price level.

        In 2014-15, the total value of production for the Agriculture industry in the GBR Catchment Area was estimated to be $5,714 million, an increase of 31% from 2007-08. The value of production in the Fitzroy NRM region increased by $528 million (or 45%), which was the largest increase in value of production in the GBR Catchment Area. This was followed by the Wet Tropics and Burdekin NRM regions, which increased by 33% and 29% respectively. In 2014-15 the vast majority of Agricultural production within the GBR Catchment Area was food ($5,512 million) and the remaining was for materials production ($202 million).

        Food provisioning also accounted for the vast majority of Agricultural production in tonnes. In 2014-15 the GBR Catchment Area produced 32.4 million tonnes of food. From 2007-08 to 2010-11 food production decreased by 23%, and then increased by 27% between 2010-11 to 2014-15, slightly increasing across the entire period as a whole. Changes in production volume were driven almost entirely by fluctuations in the production of sugar cane, which averaged 90% of GBR food production by weight between 2007-08 and 2014-15. The majority of sugar production occurs in the Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday NRM regions.

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        Selected IndicatorsUnits2007-082008-092009-102010-112011-122012-132013-142014-15
        Total food production000 tonnes32 993.832 099.631 321.825 521.226 327.328 320.331 352.132 409.8
        Total food value (a)$ million4 182.54 403.84 274.14 036.04 265.84 490.24 918.05 512.3
        Total agricultural materials production000 tonnes218.6459.2166.1201.5278.5277.2314.8379.1
        Total agricultural materials value (a)$ million177.2205.6220.1213.2254.6237.3251.9201.8
        Agriculture regional Gross Operating Surplus (GOS) (a)$ million1 750.32 088.22 176.92 081.92 294.12 449.72 463.22 793.3
        Ecosystem Services Input (a) (b)$ million205.4433.8410.4636.9980.71 049.1972.71 226.5
        Ecosystem Services Input as percentage of GOS (b)%1221193143433944

        EVAO (Estimated Value of Agricultural Operations) - refers to the scope of data collection for the estimates
        a. current prices
        b. Ecosystem Services Input calculated via the resource rent method
        Notes
        Some of the physical estimates are modelled, refer to the Explanatory Notes for more details.
        Agricultural materials production quantity excludes cut flowers, nurseries and cultivated turf.
        2007-08 estimates exclude poultry eggs.
         

        Table 1. Agriculture, selected indicators, GBR catchment area, EVAO>$5,000 (2007-08 to 2014-15)

        Table 2 below provides a breakdown of the production of selected commodity groups for the GBR Catchment Area. Meat cattle was the highest value product in the agriculture industry, accounting for 42% of the total value of production in 2014-15. This was followed by Horticulture (24%), Sugar (21%) and Broadacre crops (6%). From 2007-08 to 2014-15 the value of Meat cattle production increased by 50%. A significant component of this increase came from the Fitzroy NRM region, which in 2014-15 accounted for $1.2 billion, or just over 50%, of the value of the total Meat cattle production in the GBR Catchment Area. Prior to this, from 2012-13 to 2014-15, Meat cattle production increased by $969 million, or 68%. This increase broadly reflected an increase in Australian export beef prices.

        'Agriculture materials', in monetary terms, covers product categories such as nurseries, cut flowers, cultivated turf, cotton, and hay and silage. In physical terms (in the tables in this section) it consists almost entirely of hay and silage. The gross value of production of agricultural materials in the GBR Catchment Area increased by 42% between 2007-08 to 2013-14, from $177.2 million to $251.9 million, before decreasing by 20% the following year to $201.8 million.

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         Units2007-082008-092009-102010-112011-122012-132013-142014-15
         '000 tonnes2 091.51 124.61 438.61 082.91 276.01 086.31 183.71 116.7
        Broadacre crops (a)$ million (b)370.4292.0238.2257.1261.2307.8312.6324.2
         '000 tonnes29 404.629 299.728 262.423 054.623 430.225 738.628 483.729 591.9
        Sugar$ million (b)788.7992.41 268.4867.31 034.81 055.61 139.81 195.2
         '000 tonnes739.9915.8915.7678.7891.3823.6829.9864.3
        Horticulture$ million (b)1 194.81 267.51 158.01 209.31 214.31 486.31 296.91 349.6
         '000 tonnes496.9476.4424.7451.1469.9457.6570.7586.5
        Meat cattle (c)$ million (b)1 594.31 598.01 338.51 478.61 537.81 423.51 887.02 393.4
         '000 tonnes260.9283.0280.4254.1259.9214.2284.1250.4
        Other livestock products (d)$ million (b)234.2253.9271.0223.7217.7217.1281.8249.9
         '000 tonnes32 993.832 099.631 321.825 521.226 327.328 320.331 352.132 409.8
        Total food production$ million (b)4 182.54 403.84 274.14 036.04 265.84 490.24 918.05 512.3
         '000 tonnes218.6459.2166.1201.5278.5277.2314.8379.1
        Total agricultural materials production$ million (b)177.2205.6220.1213.2254.6237.3251.9201.8

        EVAO (Estimated Value of Agricultural Operations) - refers to the scope of data collection for the estimates
        a. Broadacre crops excludes sugar and cotton
        b. Current prices
        c. Meat cattle includes calves
        d. Other livestock products includes, pig meat, sheep meat, poultry meat, poultry eggs & cow milk
        Notes
        Some of the physical estimates are modelled, refer to the Explanatory Notes for more details.
        Agricultural materials production quantity excludes cut flowers, nurseries and cultivated turf.
        2007-08 estimates exclude poultry eggs.
         

        Table 2. Agriculture, selected commodities groups GBR catchment area, EVAO>5,000(2007-08 to 2014-15)

        The peak flooding event of 2010-11 and its impact on marine condition are discussed elsewhere in this publication. Rainfall is discussed in the Terrestrial Extent and Condition section and the impacts of peak rainfall events are discussed in the Marine Extent and Condition section. The impacts of this event on agricultural production appear to have been broadly negative, with marked declines in tonnes produced in Sugar (by 19%), Horticulture (26%) and Broadacre crops (25%) in conjunction with the extremely high rainfall, cyclones and flooding of that year. Livestock meat production appears to have been only fallen by a small amount. This does not dismiss a relationship between agricultural production and the impact of agricultural runoff on water quality; rather, it suggests that the timing of any such impacts would be determined more by peak rainfall events than by timing of the productive activity itself.

        2015-16 estimates are presented below with a different scope to the data presented for earlier years, with estimates covering businesses with estimated gross value of agricultural operations (EVAO) greater than $40,000. "The change in scope better aligns this collection with contemporary definitions of an agricultural business and reduces the overall reporting load for smaller agricultural businesses." For further information please refer to the Methodology in Agricultural Commodities, Australia, 2015-16 (cat. no. 7121.0).

        Total value of production in 2015-16 was $6.2 billion. Cattle and calf meat made up 45% of this value, with a gross value of $2.8 billion. Presented below are production and value by each NRM region within the GBR Catchment Area.

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         BurdekinBurnett MaryCape YorkFitzroyMackay WhitsundayWet TropicsGBR Total
         Gross Value ($m) (a)
        Broadacre crops (b)40.638.10.2182.32.78.8272.8
        Sugar431.3137.40.01.8235.3362.01 167.7
        Horticulture257.7658.23.444.117.8508.11 489.3
        Meat cattle (c)722.8444.438.51 465.064.589.42 824.6
        Other livestock products (d)18.7158.30.229.91.859.8268.8
        Total food production1 471.11 436.542.31 723.1322.21 028.16 023.2

         

        Total agricultural materials production13.548.20.4101.83.725.5193.0
         Production ('000 tonnes)
        Broadacre crops (b)115.475.90.4446.47.725.2671.1
        Sugar11 513.53 666.60.048.16 280.99 662.131 171.1
        Horticulture150.9223.82.821.41.8401.6802.3
        Meat cattle (c)136.684.07.3276.812.216.9533.6
        Other livestock products (d)6.962.90.111.90.630.0112.4
        Total food production11 923.24 113.210.6804.66 303.210 135.833 290.5
        Total agricultural materials production25.759.11.990.15.811.0193.5

        EVAO (Estimated Value of Agricultural Operations) - refers to the scope of data collection for the estimates
        a. Current prices
        b. Broadacre crops excludes sugar and cotton
        c. Meat cattle includes calves.
        d. Other livestock products includes, pig meat, sheep meat, poultry meat, poultry eggs & cow milk
        Notes
        Some of the physical estimates are modelled, refer to the Explanatory Notes for more details.
        Agricultural materials production quantity excludes cut flowers, nurseries and cultivated turf.
        2007-08 estimates exclude poultry eggs.
         

        Table 3. Production and value of selected agriculture commodities, GBR catchment area, EVAO>$40,000 (2015-16)

        The six NRM regions each have quite different agricultural production patterns. Four of the six NRM regions produced over $1 billion in gross value, with Fitzroy the highest at $1.7 billion. Cape York has a much smaller population than the other regions and Mackay Whitsunday has the smallest land area.

        In Mackay Whitsunday, sugar production was the most valuable agricultural activity. Meat cattle was the predominant source of gross value in the Burdekin and Fitzroy NRM regions as well as in the much smaller Cape York agricultural industry. In Burnett Mary and Wet Tropics NRM regions, Horticulture was the most valuable production activity. Wet Tropics horticultural production consists mostly of bananas while in Burnett Mary production is more diverse, including mandarins, macadamias, avocados and various vegetables.

        In terms of area, in June 2017 the ABS published Land Account: Queensland, Experimental Estimates, 2011 - 2016 (cat. no. 4609.0.55.003), which featured an article, Accounting for Land Changes in the Great Barrier Reef. Grazing covers 32 million hectares of the 48 million hectares in the GBR Catchment Area. In recent years, livestock grazing expanded in net terms into land which was previously classed as 'vacant residential' and 'other agriculture - cropping', while losing land, in net terms, to land classed to 'extractive industries'.

        The predominance of grazing use observed in the Land Account means that as well as being a major source of value to the agriculture industry, livestock production is a major custodian of land in the GBR Catchment Area. This means that practices and behaviour in that industry are likely to influence the availability of landscape regulatory ecosystem services condition in the region. For more detail on change in regulatory ecosystem services provided by landscapes in the GBR Catchment area, see the Regulating Ecosystem Services section.

        Forestry

        The Forestry industry harvests timber to be used throughout the economy. Similarly to Agriculture, the Forestry industry benefits from the input of range of environmental services. These services have been measured in this publication as an input to production, valued using the resource rent method. In 2014-15 the ecosystem contribution to production in the Forestry industry in the GBR Catchment Area was $28.5 million, accounting for 61% of the gross operating surplus. Between 2010-11 and 2014-15 the ecosystem service input estimated for the industry fluctuated between $9.4 million and $28.5 million.

        Between 2010-11 and 2012-13, forestry log harvest decreased by 26% from 915,000 m³ to 726,000 m³, before increasing by 22% over the following 2 years to 886,700 m³ in 2014-15. The total value of the log harvest followed a similar pattern of decline followed by rise, but increased by more from the 2012-13 base to 2014-15, rising by about 30%.

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        Selected IndicatorsUnit2010-112011-122012-132013-142014-15
        Total Log Harvest'000 m³915977.9726.4735.1886.7
        Total Value of Log Harvest (a)$ million80.47559.459.977.3
        Forestry industry regional Gross Operating Surplus (GOS) (a)$ million36.338.432.438.946.7
        Ecosystem Services Input (a) (b)$ million9.416.511.215.328.5
        Ecosystem Services Input as percentage of GOS (b)%2643353961

        a. Current prices
        b. Ecosystem Services Input calculated via the resource rent method
        Notes
        Refer to the Methodology page for details on how estimates were modelled.
         

        Table 4. Forestry industry, selected indicators, GBR catchment area (2010-11 to 2014-15)

        The proportion of forestry taking place in native forests compared to plantations is important from an ecosystem services perspective. This breakdown is unavailable for the GBR Catchment Area, but on a statewide basis (of which the GBR is 43% in terms of employee income), 12% of forestry production was from native forests and 86% from plantations in 2014-15.

        Water

        This section details the use of water by the agriculture industry in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Catchment Area. In 2014-15, the ABS Water Account, Australia (cat. no. 4610), showed that around 60% of water consumption in Queensland was by the agriculture industry – this proportion is estimated to be higher in the GBR Catchment Area because of the relative concentration of Queensland agricultural production in this region.

        Graph 1 below shows average annual rainfall in the GBR Catchment Area from 2010-11 to 2015-16. It shows that recorded rainfall peaked during the extreme weather events in 2010-11 and decreased across subsequent years. Graph 2 shows that, in contrast, the use of irrigated water for agricultural activities in the GBR Catchment Area has increased steadily between 2010-11 to 2015-16, by an estimated 135%, from 773,979 ML in 2010-11 to 1,821,593 ML in 2015-16. This illustrates that farms have a greater need for irrigation when rainfall is low.

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        Graph 3 below shows the increase in water use in the GBR Catchment Area between 2010-11 and 2015-16 was mostly due to the increase in the Burdekin NRM region. Burdekin was the NRM which accounted for the largest proportion of water use in the GBR Catchment Area, representing 58% of water used for agricultural activity in 2015-16. Agricultural water use in the Burdekin region increased steadily from 2010-11 to 2015-16, from 395,868 ML to 1,049,465 ML, an increase of 165%. In 2015-16 the region received the lowest amount of recorded rainfall in the GBR Catchment Area (see Table 4.1 in the Data downloads section), explaining the higher use of irrigation water.

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        Graph 4 below displays the gross value of selected irrigated agricultural commodities for the GBR Catchment Area between 2010-11 and 2014-15. Sugar had the highest value of irrigated production, 32% of the total in 2014-15. The value of sugar production increased sharply after the 2010-11 cane crop was damaged in the flooding in 2010-11, from $365.4 million in 2010-11 to $634.6 million in 2011-12.

        In 2014-15, sugar accounted for 69% of total water applied to agricultural activity and 90% of agricultural production by tonnage (see the Agriculture and Forestry section). After sugar, fruit and nut production had the next highest gross value of irrigated production with 28% of the total in the GBR Catchment Area in 2014-15.

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        Table 1 reports estimated water storage held in large urban and rural dams in the GBR Catchment Area. Of the recorded dams, the Fitzroy NRM region has the highest proportion of urban storage as of June 2016, representing 81% of total recorded urban storage in the GBR Catchment Area. In terms of rural storage the Burdekin NRM region recorded the highest share with 42% of the total for the GBR Catchment Area in 2016.

        Between 30 June 2014 and 30 June 2016, holding of water in urban storages in the GBR Catchment Area decreased by 21%, while the holding of water in rural storages decreased by 8%.

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         201420152016
        MLMLML
         Urban200 099101 06261 220
        BurdekinRural1 865 2141 472 5371 865 214
         Urban39 65057 95045 750
        Burnett MaryRural1 140 9051 311 1971 216 527
         Urbannanana
        Cape YorkRuralnanana
         Urban685 167685 167618 981
        FitzroyRural718 335881 422610 766
         Urbannanana
        Mackay WhitsundayRural657 297532 844496 241
         Urban34 69834 69834 698
        Wet TropicsRural415 739371 977240 691
         Urban959 613878 877760 649
        Total GBRRural4 797 4904 569 9774 429 438

        na not available
        Source: Bureau of Meteorology.
         

        Table 1. Water storage in large dams, by NRM region, GBR catchment area, 2014-2016

        Carbon

        This section presents biocarbon stock accounts for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Region, estimating the amount of carbon stored in Australia’s terrestrial ecosystems in each year since 1989. The ability to store carbon in soil and vegetation (biocarbon) is referred to as a regulating ecosystem service, because the removal of excessive atmospheric carbon by storing it in the biosphere benefits the economy and society through climate regulation. This information can be combined with economic information to help shape priorities for the use of Australia’s land and marine assets.

        To demonstrate this, the ABS presents analysis by the Department of the Environment and Energy on a biocarbon stock account for carbon stored in above ground biomass, below ground biomass, and harvested wood products within the GBR Region (note that offshore islands including the Torres Strait are in scope for this analysis). Greenhouse gas flows, atmospheric carbon stocks and geocarbon (fossil fuel) stocks are out of scope for this publication. Marine ecosystems also have significant capacity to store carbon as biocarbon, particularly seagrass meadows. There are no formal accounts for this storage capacity, and it is not considered in this report, however one estimate has found that seagrass meadows sequester carbon 35 times faster than rainforests.

        The GBR Region held 2.8 Gt of biocarbon in the year ending June 2016 - this was a net decrease of 0.14 Gt from the 1989 reference year (Graph 1).

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        Source(s): Department of the Environment and Energy, Commonwealth of Australia

        Graph 2, below, shows the year-to-year change of total biocarbon stocks. The rate of decrease in biocarbon stocks was very rapid between 1989 and 1997, but has slowed in recent years. This reduced rate of loss of biocarbon can be attributed to forest regrowth and slowing of losses from grasslands, resulting in net gain of forest carbon stocks from 2008 to present. Although forest carbon has increased, there has still been an overall net decrease of biocarbon stored in the GBR Region.

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        Source(s): Department of the Environment and Energy, Commonwealth of Australia

        There are differences in vegetation communities’ capacity to store carbon. These differences relate directly to the area covered by each community and to the density of carbon stored above and below ground by that community. As shown in Graph 3 below, 'Forests' stored the greatest amount of carbon above and below ground, with a combined total of 2,134 Mt C (76%) in 2015-16, followed by 'Grasslands' and 'Mangroves', with 435 Mt C (15%) and 149 Mt C (5%) respectively. While 'Mangroves' only accounted for 5% of the total stored carbon in the region, they recorded the highest density, 687 tonnes per hectare, followed by 'Forests' with 108 tonnes per hectare being stored in the year ending June 2016. 'Grasslands' accounted for a large portion of the carbon stocks, due to its expansive land cover, rather than its carbon density.

        In 2016, 68% of the total biocarbon was stored below ground in soil stocks.

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        1. Forests are defined as being ≥2m in height and ≥20% canopy cover. Where a settlement or wetland is forested on this criteria, it is classified as a forest, unless it is a Mangrove;
        2. Grasslands also includes settlements and inland wetlands that are not also a forest. This includes areas of sparse woody vegetation that do not meet the forest definition;
        3. Mangroves are identified using the same height and canopy criteria for forests along coastal areas;
        4. Croplands includes areas of crop growth and excludes grazing areas that are not part of a rotaiontal cropping and grazing system. Above ground biomass includes perennial horticulture such as orchards, an biomass to account for transient crops such as sugarcane.;
        5. Tidal marshes are principally coastal wetlands that do not meet the definition of a forest.

        Source(s): Department of the Environment and Energy, Commonwealth of Australia

        The Department of the Environment and Energy included a special topic on biocarbon stocks in the GBR Region in their Quarterly Update of Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: March 2017.

        Regulating ecosystem services

        This section presents experimental estimates of regulating ecosystem services in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Catchment Area, by NRM region and type of regulating service.

        Ecosystems have the capacity to regulate climate, hydrologic and biochemical cycles, earth surface processes, and a variety of biological processes. Where the regulating capacity of an ecosystem contributes to benefits used in human and other activity, a regulating ecosystem service has taken place (footnote 1). Ecosystems vary in both the types of regulatory functions carried out and capacity to carry out these functions. Regulating ecosystem services can vary significantly over time and between ecosystems. For example, a healthy wetland ecosystem has a greater capacity to provide water regulation services than an urban area.

        Table 1 below describes some of the regulating services identified in the GBR Catchment Area and examples of benefits that potentially arise from these services.

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        Regulating serviceExamples of benefits
        Erosion ProtectionReduced sediment loads in water and reduced deposition of downstream water basins.
        Water quality/purificationCleaner water from pollution control, detoxification and waste assimilation.
        Water regulationRestoring natural hydrological flows to allow groundwater recharge and discharge that support groundwater dependant ecosystems, such as wetlands.
        Hazard reductionReduction of impacts against extreme natural events like drought, floods and storms.

        Sources: SEEA-EEA 2012; Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
         

        Table 1. Regulating services and benefits obtained

        Experimental estimates contained in Table 2 (footnote 2) show scores that provide a comparison of each NRM regions' capacity to provide regulating services from pre-clear (pre-European) to 2009 (footnote 3). These scores quantify the capacity of each NRM region to deliver a suite of ecological processes that together represent an indicator of regulating services. Capacity has been measured at a regional level and on a scale of 0.0 (poor capacity) to 5.0 (highest capacity).

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        Regulating Servicespre-clear Value2009 Value% Change
        Erosion protection
         Burdekin3.51.9-46
         Burnett Mary4.12.2-46
         Fitzroy3.02.0-33
         Mackay Whitsunday4.12.7-34
         Wet Tropics4.12.7-34
        Water quality/purification
         Burdekin3.11.7-45
         Burnett Mary3.52.2-37
         Fitzroy2.92.2-24
         Mackay Whitsunday3.62.7-25
         Wet Tropics3.62.6-28
        Hazard Reduction
         Burdekin3.62.0-44
         Burnett Mary4.51.7-62
         Fitzroy3.62.0-44
         Mackay Whitsunday4.43.0-32
         Wet Tropics4.42.4-46
        Water Regulation
         Burdekin3.91.8-54
         Burnett Mary4.21.9-55
         Fitzroy3.81.9-50
         Mackay Whitsunday4.22.9-31
         Wet Tropics4.12.5-39

        Notes
        Data were not available for Cape York.
        Scores are measured on a scale 0.0 (poor capacity) to 5.0 (highest capacity)
        Source: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, 2017
         

        Table 2. Ecosystem capacity to provide regulating service, indicator score, by NRM region, GBR catchment area, pre-clear (pre-European) and 2009

        Changes in capacity arise from both changes in the extent and types of coastal ecosystems (estuaries, woodlands, etc.) and land use (conservation, urban areas, production grazing, sugar etc.) taking place within each NRM region. Figures 1 and 2 show these landscapes have changed over time. All NRM regions reported significant declines in regulating capacity for erosion protection, water quality, hazard protection and pollination between the period of pre-clear (pre-European) and 2009.

          Figure 1. Coastal ecosystems, GBR catchment area, pre-clear and 2009

          Figure 1. Coastal ecosystems, GBR catchment area, pre-European and 2009

          Figure 1. Coastal ecosystems, GBR catchment area, pre-clear and 2009

          Image of two comparative maps showing the Coastal ecosystems, Great Barrier Reef catchment area, pre-clear and 2009.

          The first image on the left shows the Pre-clear Coastal Ecosystems, Great Barrier Reef Catchment area and depicts the Estuaries, Freshwater wetlands, Forested floodplain, Grass and sedgelands, Health and shrublands, Woodlands, Forests, Rainforests, Non-remnant, Exposed Reef, Mainland and islands.

          The second image on the right shows the 2009 Coastal Ecosystems, Great Barrier Reef Catchment and depicts the Estuaries, Freshwater wetlands, Forested floodplain, Grass and sedgelands, Health and shrublands, Woodlands, Forests, Rainforests, Non-remnant, Exposed Reef, Mainland and islands.

          Source: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

            Figure 2. Land use, GBR catchment area, 2009

            Figure 2. Land use, GBR Catchment Area, 2009

            Figure 2. Land use, GBR catchment area, 2009

            Image of a map showing the Land use, Great Barrier Reef Catchment Area, 2009.

            The image shows the 2009 Land Use Great Barrier Reef Catchment.
            Area north of Cooktown is 1999 Landuse Mapping.

            The map depicts the areas of; Conservation, natural environments (in wetlands), Forestry - production, Grazing natural vegetation, Intensive animal production, Intensive commercial, Intensive mining, Intensive urban residential, Production - dryland, Production, irrigated, Water - production ponded pastures, Water storage and transport, Exposed reef, Mainland and islands.

            Source: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

            Figures 1 and 2 above show that significant portions of 'Grazing natural vegetation' cover non-remnant vegetation areas of the catchment, but also that grazing takes place in areas that retain pre-European coastal ecosystems. This results in the nature of grazing activity and practices having a particularly significant influence over the regulating capacity of the catchment. Data on land use within the GBR Catchment Area is presented in the Terrestrial Extent and Condition section and shows that 32 million hectares are made up of 'Livestock Grazing' of the total 48 million hectares of the GBR Catchment Area. Users should note that this section and the Terrestrial Extent and Condition section use different classifications for land use and also for the NRM boundaries (refer to Methodology).

            Estimating and communicating changes in ecological regulating capacity is important for understanding emerging environmental issues and for informing policy related to ecosystem health. It can be used to inform priorities on investment in land use and their management practices, and for ongoing monitoring of effectiveness of these investments.

            In response to challenges facing the GBR Region, the Australian and Queensland governments have developed The Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan (the Plan). The Plan presents actions to protect Reef values, health and resilience, while allowing ecologically sustainable development and use. A key element of the Plan is developing ecosystem resilience in the face of a variable and changing climate – for both marine and terrestrial ecosystems. To achieve this, the Plan outlines objectives and targets, including Water Quality Objective 1 and Water Quality Targets 1 and 2. In this context, metrics of regulating capacity related to erosion protection, water purification services, and hazard reduction within the landscape, provide important leading indicators of future changes to water quality and the health of the GBR Region.

            Footnotes

            1. System of Environmental-Economic Accounting – Experimental Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EEA) pp 155-156
            2. Estimates produced by the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)
            3. The pre-European settlement period is referred to as ‘pre-clear’ by the GBRMPA

            Data downloads

            Table 1. Summary of findings

            Table 2. Marine extent and condition

            Table 3. Terrestrial extent and condition (land account)

            Table 4. Terrestrial extent and condition (river loads)

            Table 5. Biodiversity

            Table 6. Employment and business profile

            Table 7. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

            Table 8. Expenditure on environmental goods and services

            Table 9. Tourism

            Table 10. Fishing and aquaculture

            Table 11. Agriculture and forestry

            Table 12. Water

            Table 13. Carbon

            Table 14. Regulating ecosystem services

            All data cubes

            History of changes

            Show all

            21/08/2017 - Please note there was an update to TABLE 1. FISHING INDUSTRY, SELECTED INDICATORS, GBR REGION, 2001-02 to 2015-16 in Fishing & Aquaculture. Data was updated for 2011-12 estimates of number of Commercial fishing licenses and number of person days of Fishing Effort.

            About environmental-economic accounts for the Great Barrier Reef

            The ABS is currently utilising data for this publication that are 'accounts ready' (much of which are already released to the public). This publication should be considered experimental, as improvements to methods and new data sources continue to become available. The ABS will be seeking input from key stakeholders with the intention of addressing issues and concerns in future updates. The ABS offers grateful thanks to those stakeholders and data providers that have already provided valuable input into this publication.

            The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is an Australian icon, listed in 1981 as a world heritage property on the basis of its natural outstanding universal value (OUV). Its natural beauty and representation of major stages in the Earth’s evolutionary history (including anthropogenic interaction with the environment) has prompted its recognition internationally as one of the most precious ecosystems on Earth (GBRMPA, 2014). Our expanding ability to measure the condition, economic activity and social aspects of the GBR supports better decision making for this important Australian region.

            The GBR is managed under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 (Cth) to provide for the multiple uses of the Reef where biodiversity and heritage values are protected, as well as the social and economic aspects of the environment.

            The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area totals 348,000 km². The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is slightly smaller at 344,400 km². The remaining 3,600 km² of the World Heritage Area falls under the jurisdiction of the Queensland State Government and includes islands, ports and other internal waters.

            In April 2015, the ABS published an Information Paper: An Experimental Ecosystem Account for the Great Barrier Reef Region, 2015 (cat. no. 4680.0.55.001). This publication applied the principles of the United Nations endorsed System of Environmental-Economic Accounts: Experimental Ecosystem Accounts (SEEA-EEA) to the GBR Region for demonstration and learning.

            The SEEA framework assures consistency with the System of National Accounts (SNA). Over time, the SEEA framework will assist stakeholders to assess how social, economic and environmental goals can be appropriately balanced. To this end, the ABS uses the SEEA to produce accounts that describe indicators of resource use and environmental intensity, indicators of production, employment and expenditure relating to environmental activities and indicators of environmental assets, net wealth, income and depletion of resources.

            This publication extends the scope of the 2015 information paper to inform a wider range of environmental-economic issues. These issues are selected from those nominated in The Reef 2050 Plan or otherwise considered to be important to the region.

            The additional accounts include; carbon stock accounts (biocarbon in the GBR landscape), marine water quality accounts, water use accounts and environmental goods and services statistics (investment by government, industry and households to protect the GBR while still achieving economic goals). The inclusion of these accounts has three main aims:

            • to increase the public value of statistics,
            • to demonstrably improve policy-makers’ ability to detect economic problems emerging from changes to environmental assets and
            • to demonstrate the ongoing ability of SEEA-compliant environmental-economic (including ecosystem) accounts to inform programs such as the Reef 2050 Plan.
               

            For all topics covered in this publication, datacubes with more comprehensive tables in the form of Excel spreadsheets are available in the Data downloads section.

            This publication includes experimental estimates that indicate the changing capacity of ecosystems to regulate water and air quality. Selected Reef 2050 Plan objectives, targets and environmental protection expenditure have been included, prepared in a SEEA-compliant manner and presented in time-series formats.

            The ABS is committed to further engaging stakeholders on how best to meet data needs arising from issues emerging or existing within the GBR. Examples of possible future data additions include an analysis of mining impacts and further indicators related to environmental research activity in the region.

            Please note the distinction between the following terms to describe the GBR used throughout this publication:

            • Great Barrier Reef Catchment Area (GBR Catchment Area) - describes the mainland terrestrial area lying adjacent to the GBR, comprising of six Natural Resource Management (NRM) regions: Burdekin, Burnett Mary, Cape York, Fitzroy, Mackay Whitsunday and Wet Tropics. These NRM regions are comprised of forty drainage basins which drain directly into the GBR lagoon.
            • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (the Reef) - the GBR marine ecosystem. Boundaries of the GBR Marine Park were proclaimed under Subsection 31(1) of the GBR Reef Marine Park Act 1975 (Cth).
            • Great Barrier Reef Region (GBR Region) - describes the entire region, both terrestrial and marine.

            Previous catalogue number

            This release previously used catalogue number 4680.0