Media Release Great Barrier Reef

Reef catchment erosion repair funding will help GBR, but more needed

April 20, 2023
  • Funding needs to focus on biggest polluting gullies and streambanks; projects need strong measurable pollution reduction targets
  • More funding needed to restore wetlands, the coast’s natural defences and water filters  

The federal funding to help repair eroded gullies and streambanks in the Great Barrier Reef catchment announced today will help improve water quality in Reef waters, but both the Australian and Queensland governments need to pursue more avenues to ensure the Reef has the water quality it needs to be healthy and resilient in a changing climate, according to the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

AMCS Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Campaign Manager Jaimi Webster said: “Sediment is one of the two biggest pollutants in Reef waters. Sediment from eroded gullies and streambanks flows into the Reef’s inshore areas and smothers important ecosystems such as seagrass meadows and corals. Repairing gullies and streambanks with vegetation will help keep soils on the land and improve water quality in the Great Barrier Reef.

“We welcome the Australian Government announcement of $150 million in funding for erosion repair in Reef catchments, but we need to know how and where the money will be spent. The funding needs to go towards tackling the biggest polluting gullies and streambanks, and projects need to have strong measurable pollution reduction targets to ensure a high level of accountability and transparency. It’s pleasing that the government wants to work with Traditional Owners to identify projects and care for Country. We hope this will be a long-term partnership to ensure long-term maintenance of these investments.

“The World Heritage Committee’s advisers, UNESCO and the IUCN, have made clear recommendations to improve water quality and save the Great Barrier Reef.

“The Australian and Queensland governments need to co-invest to address the other major Reef pollutants, such as dissolved inorganic nitrogen, from agricultural runoff.

“The governments need to scale-up investment in restoring our coastal wetlands that provide so much benefit for the Reef and our community. They are our coast’s natural defences that reduce the impact of extreme weather events, such as cyclones and storm surges. They help filter the water that runs off the land, trapping nutrient pollution that damages the marine environment and coral reefs. They can also store huge amounts of carbon, making them incredibly important in reducing the impacts of climate change. Wetlands are biodiverse ecosystems that support an incredible amount of marine and freshwater life, from dugongs to crabs and barramundi.”