Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said protecting and restoring the Great Barrier Reef’s most precious land and sea scapes in the face of climate change is a priority, especially in light of the current pressures facing the Reef.
“Islands are a critical part of the whole Great Barrier Reef ecosystem and play a key role in the life cycle of so many species of flora and fauna, from turtles, dugongs and fish, to seabirds, corals and so many more,” Ms Marsden said.
“Both global climate change and local threats are impacting Great Barrier Reef islands and the animals that depends on them, and these impacts are only projected to increase into the future. We have to act now to ensure the most critical climate refuges are maintained and indeed future proofed against whatever might come their way,” she said.
“By working to restore and protect these island refuges, we’re essentially creating a series of ‘arks’ to help our precious Reef wildlife and plants to survive in an increasingly challenging environment.
“Lady Elliot Island, the site of today’s announcement, is home to the most amazing array of seabirds, turtles, manta rays, dolphins, sharks and coral reefs. It’s one of five Great Barrier Reef islands we’ve prioritised for urgent action based on an assessment of biodiversity, conservation value, and threat level to these values carried out by Queensland Parks and Wildlife and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
“We are absolutely delighted to have Lendlease and the Australian Government join us in supporting this quest which means that we can now accelerate the project and extend the on-ground restoration and conservation to other island habitats across the Great Barrier Reef.
“We will work closely with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Queensland Parks and Wildlife and others to identify the next priority islands and will announce these in coming months once the assessments are completed.
“Climate change is the number one threat facing the Great Barrier Reef today and the Reef Islands Initiative will improve the ability of some of the most important places on the Reef to withstand and survive our changing climate.”