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Great Barrier Reef World Heritage condition

Key finding

While the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the Great Barrier Reef remains in good condition, the overall condition of some key attributes is poor and many have deteriorated since its World Heritage listing in 1981.

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

The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage listing recognises the area has Outstanding Universal Value (OUV)—natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations.

The Great Barrier Reef’s OUV is based on all the four natural criteria in place at the time of listing—acknowledging the reef’s natural values, geomorphological significance and natural beauty, together with the strong ongoing links between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their sea country. The area is comprehensively managed.

External factors are affecting the resilience of the ecosystem in some areas however, the OUV of the World Heritage area remains in good condition.

Many key attributes have deteriorated since the Reef’s listing in 1981. Those assessed as being in overall poor condition now are:

  • coral reef and seagrass meadow habitats
  • marine turtles
  • seabirds
  • dugong.

The natural beauty of most of the region remains however, its underwater aesthetic value has declined in central and southern inshore areas.

Nevertheless, the region remains a globally outstanding example of an ecosystem that has evolved over the millennia.

External pressures are also affecting the Reef’s integrity.

More information:

Indicator: Condition of World Heritage criteria attributes

Great Barrier Reef World Heritage natural criteria condition as reported in the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2014.

Condition dial — grade 3 (Good) on a 1–4 scale

Great Barrier Reef World Heritage natural criteria condition

See also: Great Barrier Reef World Heritage assessment summary.

World Heritage natural criteria Condition summary Condition grade

Download data from Queensland Government data

Last updated 23 June 2020