Wet Tropics Pilot Report Card Released

Elaine Seager
December 5, 2016

Wet Tropics Pilot Report Card Released

An important new initiative for assessing and reporting on the health of waterways in the Wet Tropics has been released.

The Wet Tropics Pilot Report Card is the first time that organisations from across the Wet Tropics have collaborated to produce a report card for the region with the purpose of providing a snapshot of the condition of the region’s waterways.

A total of 19 organisations including Terrain have come together to form the Wet Tropics Healthy Waterways Partnership with many others contributing resources and data.

Independent Chair, Ryan Donnelly, says the Wet Tropics Pilot Report Card is an important first step in understanding where the health of waterways is good and where it can be improved.

“Many organisations collect data from our waterways, whether it is for compliance purposes or for academic research. The Partnership aims to pool data to provide a clearer picture of waterway health so that future expenditure can be more targeted,” he said.

The Partnership provides a means for communities to contribute to improving the health of their local waterways that flow into the Great Barrier Reef.

“Ultimately, the aim is to identify priorities for improving water quality in our region. All of the organisations collecting data do outstanding work but access to a larger pool of shared data will help them better achieve their objectives. The Partnership is building a valuable resource,” he said.

Key foundational partners in the project include Cairns Regional Council, Ports North, Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership (representing nine organisations from the cane industry), Terrain NRM, the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators and Queensland Government.

Mr Donnelly says that the leadership shown by these groups is paving the way for others to come on board and benefit.

Minister for the Great Barrier Reef Dr Steven Miles said the pilot report card was an action under the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan and was being driven by the local community.

“The Queensland Government is a strong supporter of regional report cards partnerships which have been established in priority ports and reef catchments, including the Wet Tropics region.

“These regional partnerships demonstrate our unwavering commitment to protect the Great Barrier Reef and ensure local communities are better informed about waterway health issues,” Dr Miles said.

“I congratulate the Partnership on the release of its first report card and look forward to seeing this tool develop over time and include even more results of interest to residents,” Dr Miles said.

Mr Donnelly said the Wet Tropics Pilot Report Card provides a summary of the condition of freshwater, estuarine and marine environments from the Daintree to the Herbert in a visual format.

“A project website provides greater detail for those that wish to dig a little deeper. The report card is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

“A team of scientists consolidates the data provided from multiple sources and determines the ranking based on criteria that is largely consistent across other report cards. As this is a pilot report card, there are notable gaps in the data that we will work hard to fill as the project progresses,” he said.

The report card will be produced annually.

To view and download a full copy of the Wet Tropics Pilot Report Card and for further details on the breakdown of results go to www.wettropicswaterways.org.au.