Informing Resilience-Based Management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area — ASN Events

Informing Resilience-Based Management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (9090)

Roger Beeden 1 , K Anthony 2 , T Walsh 3 , R Black 4 , R Pears 1
  1. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville, QLD, Australia
  2. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, QLD, Australia
  3. University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Vic, Australia
  4. Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Canberra, ACT, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef ecosystem. It has been protected as a Marine National Park since 1975, and was listed as a World Heritage Area in 1981. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has a long history of implementing management actions that support ecosystem resilience. However, the current and increasing impacts caused by climate change, coastal development and altered water quality threaten the World Heritage values of the Reef.

This presentation describes a framework for understanding cumulative impacts and informing management decisions about Great Barrier Reef under a changing climate. The framework was designed to analyse the influence of activities and cumulative stressors on the key values for which the Reef was inscribed as a World Heritage Area.

The implementation roles played by stakeholders, scientists, managers and decision makers are described to illustrate the critical need for a multidisciplinary approach to address cumulative impacts. The principles of structured decision making have been employed in the framework to generate a prototype decision-support system. The integrated modelling and decision-support framework has been applied to two “demonstration” ecosystems; coral reefs and seagrass meadows, and three geographic demonstration cases: Cape York, Wet Tropics and Capricorn Bunker.

A key strength of the framework is that it provides managers with a decision-support tool that integrates science, management options and value judgments in qualitative models. The models capture critical ecosystem dependencies without disappearing into the proverbial “rabbit hole” of complex science for each ecosystem component.