In Progress

Priority Areas

  • Climate Change
  • Endangered Species
  • Management


The Great Barrier Reef's most precious land and sea-scapes will be protected and restored in the face of climate change through the $14 million Reef Island Refuge Initiative. 

Over the next 10 years, the Foundation will work with partners to create a network of climate change refuges on five Great Barrier Reef islands or island groups. The project will develop a tailored program of on-ground climate adaptation and restoration actions for each island, aiming to boost resilience and provide a safe habitat for seabirds, turtles, corals and other marine species in the face of a changing climate.

Each island's program will vary, but could include elements such as developing detailed resilience and habitat maps for the island and its adjoining coral reefs; climate change impact modelling; piloting novel monitoring technologies such as acoustics, drones, under and above water automated vehicles, thermal imaging, and machine learning; on-ground adaptation and restoration; and carbon mitigation.

Programs will be developed in collaboration with our project partners including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), Queensland Government including Queensland Parks and Wildlife, island based businesses and communities, and science organisations.

Lady Elliot Island

Lady Elliot Island is one of five Great Barrier Reef islands/island groups prioritised for urgent action based on an assessment of its biodiversity, conservation value, and threat level to these values carried out by Queensland Parks and Wildlife and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

​An astonishing transformation

Past and present custodians of Lady Elliot Island have worked tirelessly to transform the former guano mining site back to the island's previous natural state.

The Reef Island Refuge Initiative will expand and accelerate this recovery to boost the island’s resilience to climate change and other stresses and create a haven to help precious Reef wildlife and plants to survive in an increasingly challenging environment.

Lady Elliot Island on the southern Great Barrier Reef is a remarkable place that hosts some of the most extraordinary marine and terrestrial life. It has the second highest diversity of breeding seabirds of any island on the Great Barrier Reef and is one of only two places on the Reef where endangered red-tailed tropic birds breed. Endangered loggerhead and green turtles also nest there and it’s renowned as a haven for giant manta rays and many other marine creatures.

Rare red-tailed tropicbird mother and chick on Lady Elliot Island
Manta Ray, Manta alfredi

First new climate change ‘ark’

Experts and stakeholders will come together in early 2018 to develop an on-ground action program to expand and accelerate the existing, award-winning environmental work already underway on Lady Elliot Island to further boost and accelerate the island’s resilience to climate change and other stresses.