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Reef Water Quality Report Card encouraging

The Reef Water Quality Report Card 2019, released in February 2021, found that encouraging progress was being made towards achieving the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan targets.

The report card, which measures progress towards the targets up to June 2019, showed good outcomes particularly at a region and catchment level, with improved practices leading to pollutant reductions.

The report card captures the results of landholders’ efforts to invest time and resources in programs, supported by government, that are designed to deliver productivity, profitability and water quality benefits.

The report card also helps to identify areas of success and where further gains can be made.

The Cape York region fared well, meeting all the water quality targets which cover sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus. The 5% sediment reduction target was met in 2016 and further reductions in 2018-2019 have contributed to an overall reduction of 10.1%.

The area also made good progress towards ground cover targets, with 85% of grazing lands having greater than 70% ground cover in the late dry season. However inshore marine condition declined to poor in 2018-2019.

Above-average sea temperatures, rainfall and extreme weather events all contributed to poor inshore marine condition across the Great Barrier Reef and in Cape York.

However, land management targets for grazing are still registering as poor in gully, pasture and streambank management.

Large gains can and are being made through major gully projects, like those funded through the Australian Government’s Reef Trust projects, and effective land management practices.

There are also lots of voluntary efforts by landholders and communities that contribute to improved water quality and a more resilient reef.

This includes increasing ground cover by matching stocking rate to land carrying capacity, protecting land from wildfires, managing stock access to wetlands and frontage areas, stopping the spread of weeds and applying fertiliser more efficiently.

The Australian and Queensland governments have invested $667 million (from 2017 to 2023) in actions to drive progress towards the targets.

The progress recorded in this report card demonstrates important on-ground improvements are underway but more action is required across all Reef catchments to continue to drive progress towards the targets.

The Cape York results would benefit from obtaining more data from land managers to better reflect the condition of land in this region.

Fully explore the results through the interactive report card. Read the supporting case studies to learn more about how communities and land managers are taking action to improve water quality.

Report card results are collated through the Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program which is funded by the Australian and Queensland government’s Paddock to Reef Program and the Queensland Government

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