Local community groups along the Great Barrier Reef have been awarded $1.4 million under the Community Reef Protection Grants Stage 1 for projects that will contribute to improving Reef health. 

These twenty-five projects will empower people to be part of the solution and will see local on-ground action in Reef regions ranging from turtle and Reef health monitoring to reducing litter entering the Reef catchments in Townsville, Mackay, Gladstone and Bundaberg. 

Australians from all walks of life have been rising to the challenge as the Reef has been under more pressure than ever before and these grants allow them to go further in their efforts to protect the Reef. 

The Reef Trust Partnership includes $10 million for Community Reef Protection over six years.  

The twenty-five grants are for successful applicants from two Community Reef Protection grant rounds (Local Action through the Local Marine Advisory Committees and Citizen Science). 

Find out more in the Media Release

The task of saving the Reef can appear enormous, but the cumulative difference that will come out of these local action projects will have real impact on the Great Barrier Reef.

Anna Marsden

Project Partners: Local action

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Flying Fish Point State School

Flying Fish Point State School Billabong

Cassowary Coast Local Marine Advisory Committee

Supported by: Cassowary Coast Regional Council, Johnstone Region Landcare and Ma:Mu 

This project will upgrade the open channel that borders the Flying Fish Point State School to a functioning billabong. This unique partnership will improve stormwater quality flowing from the catchment to the Reef while educating the next generation by incorporating wetland management into the school’s curriculum.  

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Conservation Volunteers Australia

Townsville Urban Marine Debris Strategy Development

Townsville Local Marine Advisory Committee

Supported by: Healthy Land & Water, Reef Urban Stormwater Management Improvement Group and James Cook University 

The project aims to identify and reduce land-based sources of marine debris, create relevant engagement and educational materials for the whole Reef catchment and recommend cost effective local actions to reduce litter entering the marine environment.  

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Whitsunday Regional Council

Restoration of Twin Creek

Whitsunday Local Marine Advisory Committee

Supported by: Whitsunday Catchment Landcare, Reef Catchments 

The project will see a section of a degraded urban creek system replanted with native species. This aims to increase the roughness within the waterway and bind sediments, to slow water flow and reduce erosion.  

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Reef Catchments (Mackay Whitsunday Isaac) Limited

What a load of rubbish! Sorting out its source

Mackay Local Marine Advisory Committee

Supported by: Mackay Regional Council, Cleanwater Group 

Gross Pollutant Traps (GPTs) throughout Mackay have been audited to identify hotspot areas, or areas where a particular item (e.g. cigarettes) are abundant. This project will use this data to approach businesses in hot spot locations to implement source-reduction plans and pilot projects. Five GPTs will also be installed in high pollutant areas throughout the Mackay region to further reduce debris entering the ocean.  

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Fitzroy Basin Association

What’s down our drains?

Gladstone & Capricorn Coast Local Marine Advisory Committees

Supported by: Livingstone Shire Council (LSC), Rockhampton Regional Council (RRC), Gladstone Regional Council (GRC), CleanWater Group, Capricorn Coast Landcare, Capricornia Catchments,  Conservation Volunteers Australia, Tangaroa Blue Foundation and CQ University – Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre 

This project will see Drain Buddies installed into river litter hotspot areas that will enable the litter types to be analysed. This data will be used to identify what item/s to target in a behaviour change and source reduction project.  

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Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers

#LessisMore – Seeding behaviour change in the Bundaberg community

Bundaberg Local Marine Advisory Committee

Supported by: Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers Cooperative Limited, Gidarjil Development Corporation, Kalkie State School, St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Bundaberg Regional Council, Canegrowers Bundaberg, Bargara State School 

The #LessisMore pilot project will initiate positive behaviour change for the Great Barrier Reef within the Bundaberg community. The three simple actions it will focus on are: targeting single use plastics for primary schools by teaching students how to make beeswax wraps, encouraging smokers to ‘vote for the Reef’ by placing their butt in a bin and reducing the amount of plastic straws with a paper for plastic straw replacement program for local cafes and school tuckshops.  

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South Cape York Catchments

Creating sensitive visitors to the Great Barrier Reef Northern Region

Cape York Local Marine Advisory Committee

Supported by Cooktown Chamber of Commerce and Tourism 

Working with local Traditional Owners, scientists, community members and school students, this project will create an inspiring guide to visiting and using the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, without damaging it. This guide will be a Call-To-Action to excite tourists and locals into doing their bit to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

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Port Douglas Daintree Tourism Ltd

Inspiring steps towards a sustainable Shire

Port Douglas Local Marine Advisory Committee

Supported by: Douglas Shire Council and Sugarcane Growers 

The project will create a series of vignettes showcasing leaders in the region who are improving water quality by implementing change into their everyday work practises across agriculture, tourism and community development. This will put a spotlight on what can be done in the community and create a practical guide to inspire change in business practices throughout the Douglas Shire and beyond.  

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Cairns and Far North Environment Centre Inc.

Warriors of the Waterways – A unifying story

Cairns Local Marine Advisory Committee

Project delivered with support from: Cairns Regional Council, Wet Tropics Healthy Waterways Partnership, Holloways Beach Environmental Education Centre, Mangrove Watch and Treeforce 

Healthy creeks lead to healthy reefs, this project will use a grassroots campaign to celebrate current and initiate community-powered waterway health initiatives in Cairns.  

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Bowen Tourism and Business

Leaving no footprints

Bowen Local Marine Advisory Committee

Supported by: Whitsunday Regional Council, a local Reef Guardian School and Reef Check Australia 

This Reef education program aims to educate visitors and locals in the region about the importance of the local reef and marine life and how to enjoy accessible local reefs without impacting the environment, or leaving any footprints behind.

Project Partners: Citizen Science

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Turtle Care Volunteers Queensland Inc.

Wreck Rock Turtle Monitoring Project

Location: Wreck Rock Beach, south of 1770

Supported by: Department of Environment and Science, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services, Gidarjil Development Corporation, Relics Revived, Bundaberg Outdoor Power Centre, Sunshine Coast Square Dance Centre, Bunnings and Discovery Coast Environment Centre 

Wreck Rock Beach is only one of two areas in the South Pacific region that produces predominately female turtle hatchlings, this is an issue for the survival of the species. Turtle Care Volunteers Queensland Inc. will engage volunteers to monitor population information provided to land managers to implement response strategies to mitigate the negative impacts of climate and weather factors and other threats such as predation, with the goal to increase in the numbers of hatchlings from this site. 

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Fitzroy Basin Association

Team Turtle CQ

Location: Capricorn and Curtis coasts in Central Queensland

Supported by: Livingstone Shire Council, Gladstone Regional Council, Southern QLD NRM, QLD Turtle Conservation Project, Conservation Volunteers Australia and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services 

The Team Turtle CQ Project aims to empower community volunteers to participate in citizen science, recording data on nesting marine turtles along the Capricorn and Curtis coasts of Central Queensland. Project data is used to inform a behaviour change campaign to help implement onground action to protect nesting beaches and reduce impacts threatening local turtles.

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Gidarjil Development Corporation Limited

Community Caring for Sea Country: Seagrass

Location: Bustard Bay

Supported by: Central Queensland University, James Cook University - The Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research, Department of Environment and Science, Discovery Coast Environment Group 

Led by the Gidarjil Land and Sea rangers, with guidance and participation from Elders of the Port Curtis Coral Coast (PCCC) region, this project will address a significant knowledge gap in the condition and health of seagrass and saltmarsh in Bustard Bay. Traditional Owners, youth and community members will join field-based training and data collection activities to establish and monitor local seagrass using the Seagrass Watch.

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Great Barrier Reef Legacy

Amplifying Reef Citizen Science

Location: Port Douglas

Supported by: Queensland University of Technology, Douglas Shire Council, Seastar Cruises, Wavelength, Calypso, Low Isles Preservation Society, Eye to Eye Marine Encounters and Reef Ecologic  

A new model for place-based citizen science data integration and reporting will be piloted, with potential opportunities for scaling to other locations. This project will demonstrate how multiple citizen science datasets can be collected and combined for three sites (inshore, offshore, midshelf) to improve model estimates and predictive performance of Reef health and reported using a central platform.

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Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC)

Cairns and Far North Queensland MangroveWatch

Location: Cairns – Seven estuaries within the Wet Tropics and Southern Cape York region

Supported by: South Cape York Catchments, Mangrove Watch, GBR Legacy, Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation  

This project will enhance existing MangroveWatch monitoring by facilitating citizen science tidal wetland data collection on ecosystem condition in seven estuaries within the Wet Tropics and Southern Cape York region. The project scales previously established MangroveWatch methods in new locations and demonstrated connectivity across multiple sites and land to sea connections.  

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Queensland University of Technology

Combining Citizen Science and innovative technologies to enhance reef management

Location: Reef wide

Supported by: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Great Barrier Reef Legacy 

Develop a cloud-based image platform, Virtual Reef Diver, and integrate with the existing Eye on the Reef app to enable the upload of underwater and classification of images showing the seafloor. This close an adaptive management loop by enabling data to be analysed together and deliver predictive maps that can be downloaded and summarised to facilitate, local, regional, and GBR scale reporting that are accessible to reef communities.  

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Earthwatch Institute

Protecting wetlands for the future

Location: Cairns, Mackay, Yeppoon and Gladstone

Supported by: Mangrove Watch, Cool Australia, Holloways Beach Environment  Education Centre, Mackay Christian College, North Keppel Island Environment Education Centre, Boyne Island Env Edu Centre 

This project will support teacher training, student engagement and curriculum materials to help to deliver a framework for a standardised school-based Mangrove Watch monitoring program. Data can inform local mangrove management and conservation. 

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James Cook University

Extending the success of REDMAP Australia to Queensland

Location: Port Douglas, Cairns, Townsville, Whitsundays, Bundaberg/Rockhampton

Supported by: University of Tasmania, Marine Teachers Association of QLD, Queensland Museum  

The project seeks to inform, engage and educate fishers, divers, boaters and the general public about marine species that are shifting southwards with warming waters. Program ambassadors will be trained along the coast to engage with SCUBA, snorkelling and fishing organisations to help communities report on unusual sightings and track key species.


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Science Under Sail

Building understanding through participation in seagrass mapping and data visualisation

Location: Innisfail/Cairns, Ayr/Townsville, Ingham, Mackay, Gladstone, Bundaberg

Supported by: Australian Data Science Education Institute, Ingham State High School, Mackay North State High School, Inisfail State College, Holy Spirit College, Tooloola State High School, Bundaberg Christian College, Trinity Bay State High School, Burdekin Christian College and Chanel College 

This project works to address a knowledge gap in seagrass spatial extent by training high schools students along the coast to collect and share rapid spatial assessments of seagrass.

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Reef Teach

Great Barrier Reef health monitoring and training project

Location: Cairns

Supported by: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Calypso Productions and Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef

This project will train tourism operators to undertake georeferenced photo sections as an expanded activity for GBRMPA’s Eye on The Reef program. It will engage a minimum of eight local operators and provide a replicable model for other regions. This will also include trialling and implementing explores models for engaging guests in activities, including internship programs and Master Reef Guide led programs for visitors. 

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CoralWatch, Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland

Educating communities to help ACT and PROTECT our GBR

Location: Palm Islands and Keppel Islands 

Supported by: Boyne Island Environment Education Centre, North Keppel Environment Education Centre, Jina Gunduy Sustainability Hub, Palm Island and Marine Teachers Association Queensland 

CoralWatch will partner with Environmental Education Centres to develop reef citizen science materials tailored to the coastal areas of Palm Island, North Keppel Island, Gladstone and Heron Island. This will include curriculum linked lesson plans, coral identification sheets, virtual reef posters and display material for EEC’s and other suitable venues, as well as field-based data collection activities.

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Lady Musgrave Experience

Reef Guardians for Generations

Location: Lady Musgrave Island

Supported by: Gidarjil Development Corporation (GDC), Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), University of Queensland (UQ)/CoralWatch, Kalkie State School and Bundaberg Regional Council

This project will build a collaborative model for citizen science at Lady Musgrave working with local Traditional Owners, schools, Reef managers and community groups to collect Reef health data through CoralWatch and Eye on the Reef programs. 

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Reef Ecologic

Integrated coral reef citizen science

Location: Townsville, Palm Islands (Orpheus and Great Palm)

Supported by: GBR Legacy, Reef Check Australia, JCU Orpheus Island Research Station, CoralWatch, GBRMPA, Ecosure, Campbell Page, Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council, St Michaels School Palm Island, Coral Sea Foundation, Museum of Underwater Art and Jina Gunduy Ltd.

This project aims to integrate existing citizen science organisations and complementary reef monitoring projects in the Townsville region (Eye on the Reef, Reef Check, Coral Watch, Reef Recovery, Earth Watch, Virtual Reef Diver) and increase collaboration between multiple reef citizen science organisations to deliver a broader suite of not only ecological, but also socio-economic information from their monitoring activities.

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Reef Check Australia

Whitsunday reef monitoring for long-term health

Location: Whitsundays

Supported by: Reef Ecologic, Great Barrier Reef Legacy, Order of Underwater Heroes and The University of Queensland 

Reef Check Australia will continue collecting reef health data on long-term sites in the Whitsundays region, as well as working with project partners to expand the number of volunteers engaged in GBRMPA Reef Health and Impact Survey (RHIS) methods. The project will also train the first cohort of Reef Ambassadors as enthusiastic community leaders looking to promote information about the condition of our coral reefs and what communities can do to help.  

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Whitsunday Charter Boat Association

Whitsunday Water Quality Monitoring Blue Print for Tourism Operators

Location: Whitsundays

Supported by: James Cook University, Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership, North Queensland Bulk Ports and Reef Catchments Whitsunday Bareboat Operators Association – representing 6 companies and 150 vessels

Training of tourism operators to build on water quality monitoring at key tourism locations. The project will collaboratively develop a framework for connecting citizen science the regional report card partnership.