The Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment

IUCN Joao Letizio
Published: 14 November 2015
Last edited: 28 March 2019
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The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is an amazing natural treasure and one of the most precious ecosystems on Earth. In light of increasing pressures, and concerns raised by the World Heritage Committee on the impacts of development, the GBRMPA and other government agencies undertook a comprehensive strategic assessment, taking a look at the Reef's values, the threats to those values and what is needed to manage and protect them.


Scale of implementation
Coral reef
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Ecosystem services
Fisheries and aquaculture
Legal & policy frameworks
Protected area management planning
Science and research
Other theme
Policy and Legislation, Science and Research, Spatial Planning
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement


The Great Barrier Reef, Australia


increasing pressures on the Great Barrier Reef


the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)

How do the building blocks interact?

The findings of each assessment are presented in individual reports. The areas of overlap and joint management responsibility are addressed in both strategic assessments. The 25-year management program for the Authority (the Program Report) outlines how the Reef will be managed for the years ahead. It includes clear targets, cumulative impact guidelines and regional standards, restoration activities and an integrated monitoring and reporting program. For the first time, it considers the whole-of-Reef, with a focus on regional and local solutions. In addition, the outcomes of the strategic assessment are being used to develop the Reef 2050 Plan, in partnership by the Australian and Queensland governments and in close consultation with partners including the resources, ports, tourism, fishing, conservation and other sectors. This Plan will inform future development by drawing together the marine and coastal components of the comprehensive strategic assessment, providing an over-arching framework to guide protection and management of the GBR World Heritage Area from 2015 to 2050. It identified areas of action from the strategic assessments.


The assessment found that while the GBR World Heritage Area’s outstanding universal value remains largely intact, the overall health of reefs, especially in the southern two-thirds of the Region declined significantly. The strategic assessment concluded that managing the multiple impacts affecting the Reef requires a multi-pronged approach. It presented a series of recommended improvements to management arrangements that can be implemented by the GBRMPA and across local, state and national government programs. Given the size and complexity of the Reef, this involves balancing environmental protection with national, state and community interests. The assessment resulted in a 25-year management plan.

Contributed by

Josh Gibson Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)

Other contributors

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA)