$45 mln to bolster Reef Protection
The Australian and Queensland Governments are investing $45 million in an Australian first to improve water quality and reduce sediment run-off across the Great Barrier Reef.
The $45 million Great Barrier Reef Gully and Streambank Joint Program will deliver a cohesive program of restoration work in key catchments including Burdekin, Fitzroy and Cape York.
The joint program between government, the private sector, research institutions and conservations groups includes scientific investigation to understand the nature of gullies and the restorative activities required to fix them.
Other work will include physical remediation, mulching, revegetation, fencing, native grass seed production and grazing land management improvements.
Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg said this was an unparalleled opportunity.
"This is the first time existing and new programs have been brought together under a collaborative approach to tackle one of the biggest issues facing the reef," Mr Frydenberg said.
"The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia's and the world's greatest natural wonders and we must all work together through programs like this to protect the reef for generations to come.
"Gully and streambank erosion contributes significantly to the sediment entering the Reef with fine sediment smothering corals and reducing the light available to seagrass ecosystems. The nutrients attached to sediments are also linked to outbreaks of the coral eating crown-of-thorns starfish."
Queensland Minister for the Great Barrier Reef, Dr Steven Miles, said the program provided a step forward in efforts to improve reef water quality.
"The Program will work with organisations including the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, natural resource management organisations and Greening Australia to build on and deliver a range of projects and programs," Dr Miles said.
"These types of investments that also respond to the findings and recommendations of Queensland's Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce and associated costings reports.
"As stated in the Taskforce's report, the immediate focus must be on reducing all pressures to improve the Reef's resilience to the long-term challenges it faces. Action that improves water quality now is key to ensuring this outcome"
Key investments from the program include:
* A project between Greening Australia and the Queensland Government to trial innovative gully remediation techniques funded through the Great Barrier Reef Innovation Fund, $2 million each;
* $8 million through the Australian Government Reef Trust phase 2 for gully restoration projects in priority areas in the Burdekin, Fitzroy, Burnett Mary and Cape York natural resource management regions;
* $20 million through the Australian Government Reef Trust phase 4 competitive grants round for gully and streambank restoration in priority areas - now open for grant applications;
* A northern reef recovery project focused on remediation in Cape York, delivered through a partnership between the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and the Queensland Government, $3 million each;
* $5 million in Queensland Government funding for gully and streambank management and remediation as part of the major integrated project in the Bowen-Bogie-Broken catchment;
* $700,000 through the Australian Government's National Environmental Science Programme, with contributions of $820,000 from CSIRO and $130,000 from Griffith University; and
* $1 million through the Queensland Government Reef Water Quality Science Program for sediment management projects in the Fitzroy and Burdekin catchments from 2015-2019.
Applications are now open for the Reef Trust Phase 4 Gully and Streambank Erosion Control Program. We are looking for delivery partners to carry out on-ground works from 2016 to 2022 and interested groups are invited to apply by 15 December 2016.