RSSAf Fellow chairs Great Barrier Reef Taskforce

May 24, 2016 No Comments by

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef, made up of around 3000 individual coral reefs covering an area of 344,000 square kilometres. Unlike South Africa’s reefs, the Great Barrier Reef is dominated by hard corals, however, it too is threatened by land-based sources of pollution such as fertiliser run-off and soil erosion and the long-term impact of climate change, as demonstrated by the 2016 coral bleaching event.

Dr Geoff Garrett FRSSAf heads Great Barrier Reef Taskforce.

Dr Geoff Garrett FRSSAf heads Great Barrier Reef Taskforce.

In 2015 the Queensland Government committed to investing Aus$90 million over four years to improving water quality and Great Barrier Reef health through reducing nitrogen run-off by up to 80 per cent and total suspended sediment by up to 50 per cent in key catchments by 2025.  An independent expert panel, the Great Barrier Reef Water Science Taskforce, chaired by the Queensland Chief Scientist, Dr Geoff Garrett AO, a Fellow of the RSSAf, was established in May 2015 to advise the Queensland government on how to best direct its resources for maximum impact on water quality.

The Taskforce found that while there had been considerable past effort and investment from all parties, this had not been enough to improve water quality and urgent action was needed to change the path towards the nitrogen and sediment targets and improve the overall health of the Reef.

The Taskforce has made ten broad recommendations which are supported by detailed sub-recommendations.  The recommendations focus on: Targets; Communication, collaboration and stakeholder  engagement; Extension and education; Incentives; Regulations; Knowledge, science and innovation; Monitoring, modelling, evaluation and reporting; Two major integrated projects; Investment Planning; and Governance.

Dr Garrett submitted the Taskforce’s Final Report to the Queensland Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns in May 2016.  The Government will consider its formal response to the Taskforce Report and will look at implementing the supported recommendations from July, the start of the 2016/17 financial year.

The Taskforce’s Final Report and other communication materials can be found at Link

In January Geoff – who was President of the CSIR from 1995 to 2000 – and his wife Janet will be returning to live in Cape Town for 6 months.

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