Reef protection ‘blueprints’ rolled out in Burdekin and Wet Tropics

September 1, 2017

Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef The Honourable Steven Miles launches the Wet Tropics Major Integrated ProjectDr Steven Miles, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef, launched the start of on-ground action for the Wet Tropics and Burdekin Major Integrated Projects (MIPs), worth a combined total of $33m.

The Palaszczuk Government is rolling out two large scale reef water quality projects that will become blueprints for saving the Great Barrier Reef.

The MIPs have been developed by NQ Dry Tropics in the Burdekin and Terrain NRM in the Wet Tropics. Minister Miles said the projects would become the model for how to drive down pollution right along the reef.

“Each MIP is made up of a comprehensive suite of programs designed to achieve our reef water quality targets," Mr Miles said.

"This involves better ways to remediate the land, support services for farmers and access to specialist advice and funding.

“These programs put together should have a big impact on water quality and we can use what we learn from them for the rest of the reef catchments.

“This is great for the health of the Reef but it’s also good news for North Queensland growers and graziers because these programs are also designed to improve their productivity."

Mr Miles congratulated NQ Dry Tropics and Terrain NRM, their consortium partners, project panels, and all growers and graziers involved in creating “world-class project designs through a grass roots approach."

“With the design phase of both MIPs is now finalised, farmers, graziers and their communities are working alongside scientists and industry to provide solid on-ground solutions that aim to boost on-farm profitability while reducing sediment, pesticide and nutrient run-off to the reef,” Mr Miles said.

“Importantly, this project will engage with other land managers such as local government, mines, infrastructure managers, and national parks, to involve the whole catchment in the effort to keep soil on the land.

The Wet Tropics MIP will trial different catchment repair and treatment systems such as bioreactors. They will be delivered in collaboration with landholders, and will be closely monitored for their effectiveness in improving water quality entering the reef lagoon.

The Wet Tropics MIP will also provide farm services to support cane and banana growers in achieving optimal production and water quality outcomes, including the design and delivery of more intensive local scale water monitoring.

An innovative finance option called Reef Credits will also be trialled, where credits are generated by producers who implement projects that deliver known water quality outcomes.

Terrain NRM CEO Carole Sweatman said the MIP was about sustainable landscapes that benefited local communities.

“The widespread participation, energy and buy-in during the last six months has underpinned the success of the design phase, and we’re going into the implementation phase knowing that this program is the best it can be because it comes from the people on the ground.

“What a great outcome so far – bring on the next three years!”

Mr Miles said the design phase for both MIPs had been going since January with NQ Dry Tropics and Terrain NRM working with their local communities to create land management and water quality improvement solutions for the Tully, Johnstone, Bowen, Broken and Bogie catchments.

At the heart of these projects lies a collaborative and innovative approach to improving land and water quality at a catchment scale.

“The design phase has brought together a wide-range of experts and landholders who gave freely of their time to provide inclusive and collective solutions – showing that improving water quality and protecting the Great Barrier Reef is everyone’s responsibility,” Mr Miles said.