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Coastal development pressure on the Great Barrier Reef

Key Finding

The Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystem remains vulnerable to the effects of past, current and future coastal development, as well as cumulative impacts.

Great Barrier Reef (information applies statewide, map locations are for reference only)

The Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystem remains vulnerable to the effects of past, current and future coastal development, as well as cumulative impacts. The extent of new coastal development has been minor, although the impact of past development remains high. Projected future populations will increase development pressure.

Urban and industrial development occupies a small proportion of the catchment (less than 0.7%); minimal expansion has occurred since 2014. Urban run-off is a lower threat to than run-off from other major land uses such as agriculture, which covers about 72% of the catchment. Agriculture is the main pollutant source affecting the condition of the inshore marine ecosystem, via land-based run-off.

New and pre-existing barriers to flow and modification of coastal ecosystems continue to affect Reef health. Barriers to flow, such as tidal barrages and tidal works, have historically been installed to prevent the ingress of saline tidal waters and often to provide road access to the foreshore. Modifying coastal ecosystems for coastal development limits their ability to provide ecosystem function and services that support the Reef’s values.

More information:

Relevant Sustainable Development Goals’ targets

  • GOAL 3: GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
  • GOAL 6: CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION
  • GOAL 12: RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION
  • GOAL 13: CLIMATE ACTION
  • GOAL 14: LIFE BELOW WATER

See also: Estuarine and marine ecosystems assessment summary.

Download data from Queensland Government data

Metadata

Coastal development pressure on the Great Barrier Reef as reported in the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2019.