Greening Australia Limited

Reef Aid – Securing the future of the Great Barrier Reef Highly Ranked

Lead Organization

Greening Australia Limited

Melbourne, State of Victoria, Australia

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

The Great Barrier Reef is under threat. It’s lost more than half its coral cover since 1985 due to climate change and poor water quality. Every year millions of tonnes of fine sediment flow onto the Reef and devastate the ecosystem.The Great Barrier Reef supports the culture and livelihoods of 70 Traditional Owner groups who have been its custodians for over 60,000 years, yet they are largely excluded from its management. Together Greening Australia and Traditional Owners are ready to restore 2,000 hectares of eroded land and 10,000 hectares of wetlands at priority sites using a proven solution to prevent 400,000 tonnes of sediment from polluting the Reef each year improving water quality, the Reef’s resilience to climate change and Indigenous livelihoods and wellbeing. We will co-design and co-deliver our solution with Traditional Owners, create Indigenous enterprises, stimulate environmental markets, and introduce a revolving fund that ensures long-term impact.

Problem Statement

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest living organism and one of the most biodiverse places on earth. It possesses outstanding natural features, cultural significance and economic benefits. It’s also under threat.Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the most disadvantaged people in Australia. If we lose the Great Barrier Reef, we will impact the health, wellbeing and culture of the 70 Traditional Owner groups who rely on the Reef and their Sea Country to thrive - Indigenous people that are culturally and spiritually connected to Country, yet largely excluded from decision making.Since 1985, the Reef has lost 50% of its coral cover due to climate change and poor water quality from land-based run-off. More than 10 million tonnes of sediment from eroded gullies flow onto the Reef every year, smothering corals and seagrass, creating algal blooms, degrading water quality, and weakening the Reef’s ability to recover. 70% of this sediment comes from 20% of the catchment, meaning targeted restoration has a massive impact. And coastal wetlands act like kidneys, filtering out the sediment from agricultural, industrial and urban land use. But because wetlands are so poorly understood, over 50% have already been lost. Other wetlands are neglected and polluted.Saving the Reef is possible if we harness the desire, traditional knowledge and land management capacity of Traditional Owners through genuine partnerships with leading scientists and restoration practitioners. Together we have proven methods to act at the scale required to ensure a natural recovery.

Solution Overview

Our solution will be co-governed and co-delivered with Traditional Owners. In addition to the Mungalla Aboriginal Corporation formal collaboration, Greening Australia has established partnerships with the Woorabinda, Barada Barna, Wiri Widi, and Ghungalou Nation Aboriginal people. The Great Barrier Reef Foundation Traditional Owner Working Group will establish new Indigenous partners in the Project.The partners will target their impact on the largest local stressor on the Reef – poor water quality - harnessing Indigenous aspirations and capacity for land management. Over the five-year grant period, the Project will undertake targeted restoration on the highest sediment yielding eroded land (500 hectares) and the most important wetlands for cultural connections and biodiversity restoration (2,500 hectares), representing 25% of our Reef Aid 2030 Strategy. The Project will demonstrate that targeted restoration will have the biggest impact on water quality, biodiversity, culture and livelihoods. It will provide the foundational work to establish environmental markets including reef water quality, carbon and biodiversity credits that can generate sustained income beyond the granting period that will be returned to a revolving fund. The revolving fund will continue to invest in gully and wetland restoration beyond the granting period.Traditional Owner co-governance, access to environmental markets, and establishment of Indigenous environmental enterprises will all be critical to ensure that the benefits for the communities that rely on a healthy Reef are sustained into the future. To ensure progress is made we will monitor sediment reduction, water quality, wetland condition, biodiversity improvements, reef health, community engagement and environmental market establishment.

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Project Funders

  • Australian Government 2016 - 2022
  • Queensland Government Office of the Great Barrier Reef 2017 - 2021
  • BHP Billiton 2019 - 2024

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