Human influences resulted in a 50% decline in coral cover* between 1985 - 2012.

The Great Barrier Reef is a global icon under pressure. Notwithstanding positive actions since 2009, the greatest risks to the Great Barrier Reef remain unchanged. Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2014, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

* This does not take into account some coral recovery in recent years, or the global bleaching event in early 2016.

Major threats to the Reef

Waves on reef

Climate change

leading to coral bleaching, more extreme weather events and ocean acidification


Poor water quality

from land-based run-off leading to impacts like outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish.

View across Lizard Island

Coastal development

affecting coastal habitats that support the Reef and producing damaging urban run-off, litter and marine debris

Small-spotted Dart


remaining impacts and illegal fishing and poaching

The cumulative effect of these threats weakens the Reef’s resilience, affecting its ability to recover from serious disturbances predicted to become more frequent in the future. Over the past 20 years, the number and intensity of extreme weather events affecting the Reef is substantial.

Can the Reef recover?

The good news is that coral reefs are naturally resilient. By reducing threats and minimising impacts we enable reefs to naturally recover, even from the most damaging of tropical cyclones, such as Cyclone Yasi in 2011.

Our Action

Everyone’s actions, whether big or small, to reduce threats and restore condition will improve the Reef's outlook.

The Foundation is uniquely placed to the lead the collaboration of scientists, Reef managers, business, government and philanthropists to develop the knowledge and solutions needed to protect and restore our precious Great Barrier Reef for future generations.

The projects we fund deliver impact - they go to the heart of protecting and restoring the Great Barrier Reef.