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Reducing sediment load onto the Great Barrier Reef

Story by Tim O'Reilly | Photo by Ben Lister

Reduction in soil erosion on mitigated sites makes a substantial difference to water quality on the Reef The World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef is the planet’s greatest living wonder. A vibrant, resilient ecosystem, supporting thousands of jobs and contributing a billions to the Australian economy. Reducing the sediment load flowing to the Great Barrier Reef is a critical part of ensuring its sustainability.

Pastoralists and farmers are rising to the challenge with more than one million hectares of grazing land and 75,000 hectares of farmland in Reef catchments working under Best Management Practice Standards.

Other success stories include a sediment reduction project undertaken by Cape York NRM and Griffith University at southern Cape York’s Springvale and Crocodile Stations. Destocking of cattle and exclusion fencing on these properties has substantially reduced the sediment flowing into the Normanby catchment.

The positive outcomes of this initiative were featured at the Cape York Natural Resource Management-hosted Reef Trust Erosion Control Forum in late May 2018. After three years of on ground works, and water quality monitoring, there was clear evidence of a reduction in soil erosion on mitigated sites at a level which makes a substantial difference to water quality on the Reef.

After surpassing the 50% target set at project commencement for sediment runoff reduction at control sites on Crocodile Station and Normanby stations, monitoring will continue until 2022 to ensure the project’s sustainability.

This project is supported by Cape York NRM and has been funded by the Queensland Government Reef Water Quality Program.

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