Stage 1

Over $19 million will be provided to eleven projects under the Water Quality Improvement Grant: Stage 1.  These projects will see gullies restored, on-ground action with cane farmers and graziers to reduce run-off of the highest priority pollutants (sediments, nutrients and pesticides) in the highest priority Reef catchments and training opportunities for early career agricultural experts (extension officers) boosted.  

The Reef Trust Partnership includes $201 million to improve water quality on the Great Barrier Reef over six years. This first round of investment will focus on water quality projects that maintain or develop capacity and seek to build on existing programs with proven beneficial outcomes. Future funding rounds will provide opportunities to explore innovative approaches. 

The projects are being delivered in partnership with landholders and industry who plan to contribute a projected $13m of in-kind co-contributions.  

The eleven projects are located throughout regional Queensland.

Find out more in the Media Release.

Climate change is the number one threat to coral reefs. But the science is clear: coral reefs need action both at the local and global level. Improving water quality is a critical and practical pathway at a local level to improve Reef health.

Professor Peter Mumby, GBRF Chief Scientist

Project Partners

Tully Variety Management Group.Photo credit-Cane Changer.jpg

Queensland Cane Growers Organisation Ltd

Cane Changer 2.0

Reef Trust Partnership funding: $1,413,500  

Region: Wet Tropics, Mackay, Burdekin and Southern Reef catchment regions 

This behaviour change program uses co-design principals to elicit improved practises through accreditation in the SmartCane Best Management Program and other forms of ‘commitment’ towards improved practices. This phase of the project will build on the existing program in the Wet Tropics and initiate new programs in Mackay, Burdekin and Southern Regions. 

Photo credit-Sugar Research Australia.CAPTION-Gavin Rodman (SRA Adoption Officer)Mount Sophia farmer Glen Anderson,Belinda Billing(SRA Principal Researcher)&Chris Sterling(SRA Technician)installing water quality monitoring equipment.JPG

Sugar Research Australia

Cane to Creek 2.0

Reef Trust Partnership funding: $2,226,806  

Region: Mossman, Mulgrave-Russell, Johnstone, Murray, Herbert and Haughton catchments 

Works on farm with small cane grower groups to address nitrogen and pesticides. The program breaks down the barriers between scientists and growers, maximises peer-to-peer learning opportunities and improves understanding of the drivers of water quality impacts. 

Photo Credit-Queensland Farmers Federation. MIP site assessment.jpg

Queensland Farmers Federation

Early Career Extension Officers

Reef Trust Partnership funding: $1,146,720 

Region: Very high, high and moderate priority Reef catchments as outlined in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan (from Burdekin to the Burnett Mary) 

This project will increase the delivery capacity related to agronomic extension by training early career extension officers (agricultural experts) in practices relevant to addressing sediment, nitrogen and pesticide runoff.  The project will involve a 12-month placement of up to eight early career extension officers within various organisations in reef catchments, to increase capacity to support land management practice change. 

Photo Caption-Gully work.Photo Credit-Mary River Catchment Coordination.jpg

Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee

Gully erosion control in the Mary River Catchment ​

Reef Trust Partnership funding: $646,500 

Region: Mary River catchment 

Addresses sediment discharge to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon through gully restoration on grazing land. The project will also work with graziers to increase awareness and actively manage lands that are susceptible to erosion through the adoption of best land management practices. 


The Innovative Gully Remediation Project Phases 1 and 2 which is a collaborative project supported by the Queensland Government’s Reef Innovation Fund and Greening Australia’s Reef Aid Program5.JPG

Greening Australia ​in conjunction with Green Collar

Innovative Gully Project - Phase 3

Reef Trust Partnership funding: $2,092,040 

Region: Lower Burdekin 

This project aims to reduce the amount of sediment discharging to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon by approximately 3,200 tons per annum through remediation of alluvial gullies by using established techniques. In addition, the project will aim to pilot the Reef Credit system and investigate how Reef Credits could be used to fund gully remediation works and ongoing maintenance requirements. 

Photo Credit- Farmacist. Photo Caption-Steve Muscat from Oakenden near Mackay collecting a water sample from his sediment detention basin.jpg


Project Bluewater

Reef Trust Partnership funding: $1,243,500 

Region: Haughton, Pioneer and O’Connell Rivers and Plane Creek catchment areas 

This project reduces the runoff of pesticides into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon through the adoption of improved sugar cane farming practices. The project will directly engage over 70 growers, managing over 12,000 ha of land, in the catchments of Haughton, Pioneer, O’Connell Rivers, and Plane Creek identified as high priority in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan. 

Photo Credit-BRIA Irrigators. Photo Caption-Nick Thomas, Wilmar Sugar, Teri Buono, DAF, Mario Barbagallo, BRIA Irrigators, with a water monitor.png

BRIA Irrigators Ltd

An Evidence Based Approach to Improving Water Quality in Barratta Creek Catchment (Stage 2)

Reef Trust Partnership funding: $950,520 

Region: Barrata Creek System (Burdekin River Irrigation Area) 

Farmer (cane) led project which raises awareness and drives practice change through improved fertiliser application, modifying pesticide type and quantity and improving irrigation efficiency.  

Group Photo of the Project Catalyst Management Team and some growers (1).JPG

Catchment Solutions ​

Project Catalyst - Extension

Reef Trust Partnership funding: $2,407,751 

Region: Wet Tropics, Burdekin and Mackay/Whitsunday regions 

Supports a network of cane farmers in the Reef catchments to improve farming practices to reduce nutrient run off to the Reef. This is achieved by focusing on soil testing, nutrient management plans and implementation of controlled traffic management systems (reducing soil compaction by confining heavy machinery to permanent traffic lanes). This phase of the project will engage new farmers and continue to work with previously engaged cane farmers in Mackay Whitsunday, Burdekin and Wet Tropics. 

John Jess Bidgood.Photo credit-Resource Consulting Services Australia (1).JPG

Resource Consulting Services

Project Pioneer - Extension

Reef Trust Partnership funding: $2,899,500 

Region: Very high, high and moderate priority Reef catchments as outlined in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan (from Wet Tropics to the Burnett Mary) 

Project Pioneer promotes the adoption of regenerative grazing operations to increase ground cover in grazing lands and reduce sediment in runoff to the Great Barrier Reef. In addition to the improved water quality entering the waters of the Great Barrier Reef, other environmental outcomes include reduction in carbon loss from soils, increased biodiversity on-farm, particularly soil and aquatic life, and increased landscape resilience to the effects of climate change. 

Photo Credit-Queensland Farmers Federation.jpg

Queensland Farmers Federation

Reef Alliance Project, Phase 2

Reef Trust Partnership funding: $3.5 million 

Region: Very high, high and moderate priority Reef catchments as outlined in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan (Wet Tropics, Burdekin, Mackay/Whitsundays, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary) 

Supports cane farmers and graziers by using one-to-one agricultural experts (extension officers) to move 462 land holders, covering 209,750 ha, towards best practice to reduce sediment, nitrogen and pesticides.  

Photo caption-Property mapping with graziers Jo and David Murphy (Clothes Peg Station) Photo credit-NQ Dry Tropics.jpg

Reefwise Grazing of Burdekin Rangelands

NQ Dry Tropics

Reef Trust Partnership funding: $659,984 

Region: Burdekin 

This project will produce dedicated and specific education, training, capacity building and incentives that will take 12 grazing landholders on a progressive journey towards techniques that proactively manage stock grazing pressure and minimise potential for declining land condition leading to reduced sediment runoff. The project will also result in a further 50 landholders using increased knowledge and skills to apply management changes to improve the quality of water discharged from their property. 


When will more funding be available for water quality projects?

This is the first stage of funding within the water quality improvement component of the Reef Trust Partnership. Future funding opportunities, which may focus on broader and potentially more innovative approaches to improving water quality, will align with the Reef Trust Partnership Investment Strategy and Annual Work Plans that are in development and will be published in 2019.

How can I find out more information?

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