Community reef protection

#Community reef protection

The Community Reef Protection Component is a $10 million dollar investment through the Reef Trust Partnership which aims to improve the engagement of the broader community in the protection of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

The actions delivered through this component seek to turbo-charge the positive impact that local action has for the Great Barrier Reef and for people. It will build-on and celebrate work already underway through committed groups and individuals across the Reef and catchments. Yet, it also acknowledges that to meet the scale and urgency of the challenges we face, more must be done and we must find new ways to work together to make change happen.   

Projects will support and enhance people’s capacity to deliver on-ground action that reduces Reef threats and increases Reef resilience. This will be achieved by making it easier for people to get involved and stay involved in conservation of the Reef (irrespective of where they live); improving sharing, connection and collaboration between individuals, community groups, and Reef managers; and providing hope that inspires greater action by demonstrating that the collective efforts of many can and will make a difference.


#Focus areas


Strengthening and accelerating on-ground action


Building understanding, hope and action


Connecting community with decision making


Fostering enduring outcomes through funding, next-generation participation and partnerships

Citizen Science

Citizen Science

Fifteen projects are engaging community in data collection and sharing to increase understanding about the condition of GBR habitats and species through citizen science.

Local Action

Local Action

Nine projects championed through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Local Marine Advisory Committees and are collectively supporting and enhancing community capacity.

Local Coral Reef Stewardship

Local Coral Reef Stewardship

Australia’s first Reef Hub is being established in the Cairns-Port Douglas region, connecting local knowledge and larger-scale reef restoration and adaptation efforts.

Community Action Plans

Community Action Plans

Community Action Plan Leaders along the length of the Great Barrier Reef are working with their communities to boost local Reef protection and community outcomess.

#Citizen science projects

Wreck Rock Turtle Monitoring Project

Wreck Rock Turtle Monitoring Project

Turtle Care Volunteers Queensland Inc.

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.

Team Turtle CQ

Team Turtle CQ

Fitzroy Basin Association

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 on-ground action to protect nesting beaches and reduce impacts threatening local turtles.

Community Caring for Sea Country: Seagrass

Community Caring for Sea Country: Seagrass

Gidarjil Development Corporation Limited

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.

Amplifying Reef Citizen Science

Amplifying Reef Citizen Science

Great Barrier Reef Legacy

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.

Cairns and Far North Queensland MangroveWatch

Cairns and Far North Queensland MangroveWatch

Cairns and Far North Environment Centre

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.

Combining Citizen Science and innovative technologies to enhance reef management

Combining Citizen Science and innovative technologies to enhance reef management

QUT - Virtual Reef Diver

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.

Protecting wetlands for the future

Protecting wetlands for the future

Earthwatch Institute

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.

Extending the success of REDMAP Australia to Queensland

Extending the success of REDMAP Australia to Queensland

JCU - Redmap

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.

Building understanding through participation in seagrass mapping and data visualisation

Building understanding through participation in seagrass mapping and data visualisation

Science Under Sail

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.

Great Barrier Reef health monitoring and training project

Great Barrier Reef health monitoring and training project

Reef Teach

This project will train tourism operators to undertake geo-referenced 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.

Educating communities to help ACT and PROTECT our GBR

Educating communities to help ACT and PROTECT our GBR

UQ - CoralWatch

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.

Lady Musgrave Reef Custodians

Lady Musgrave Reef Custodians

Lady Musgrave Experience

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.

Integrated coral reef citizen science

Integrated coral reef citizen science

Reef Ecologic

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.

Whitsunday reef monitoring for long-term health

Whitsunday reef monitoring for long-term health

Reef Check Australia

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.

Whitsunday Water Quality Monitoring Blue Print for Tourism Operators

Whitsunday Water Quality Monitoring Blue Print for Tourism Operators

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.


#Local action projects

#LessIsMore for the Great Barrier Reef

#LessIsMore for the Great Barrier Reef

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers Cooperative supported by the Burnett Local Marine Advisory Committee and project partners are building on their first Local Action project in 2019 – 2020 to continue their #LessIsMore campaign. Last year, the project removed 17,750 plastic straws from circulation with eleven organisations and held train-the-trainer beeswax wraps workshops with nearly 500 teachers and students preventing the use of over 38Km of single-use plastic clingwrap. This year, the behaviour change project will continue the train-the-trainer workshops, swapping plastic for paper straws in local businesses, repurposing the plastic straws, purchasing a portable water bottle refill station for community events, and installing ten cigarette butt bins and signage.

Warriors of the waterways

Warriors of the waterways

Cairns and Far North Environment Centre supported by the Cairns Local Marine Advisory Committee are building on their first Local Action Project in 2019 – 2020 that strengthened the capacity of community groups to take local action in protecting urban waterways. Last year, the project worked with 10 community groups to develop storylines, project videos and social media strategies to raise awareness of urban waterways and community initiatives. This year, they build on this work by delivering leadership support for an additional 10 community groups – strengthening skills and networks to deliver collaborative local action for improving urban waterway health.

Promoting sustainable fishing practices

Promoting sustainable fishing practices

Douglas Shire Council supported by the Douglas Local Marine Advisory Committee and project partners are building on a project delivered by Port Douglas Daintree Tourism in 2019 – 2020 to promote sustainable practices that improve water quality. Last year, the project showcased four local business ‘champions’ and their actions to improve water quality through videos and widely promoted them to raise awareness and encourage behaviour change. This year, the project will continue with a focus on sustainable fishing practices. The project will develop educational materials including a video, website information, signage and hold a community workshop to improve engagement and explore sustainable fishing practices that aim to foster long term improvements in the Douglas Shire fishing community

What’s down our drains?

What’s down our drains?

Fitzroy Basin Association supported by the Capricorn Coast and Gladstone Local Marine Advisory Committees and project partners are building on their first Local Action project in 2019 – 2020 to undertake stage 2 of their What’s down our drains? initiative. Last year, the project prevented 27,191 pieces of litter and 721 kg of pollutants (including 13,828 cigarette butts) from entering the Great Barrier Reef, through the installation of drain buddies. The project also conducted a communication and behaviour change campaign across Rockhampton, Yeppoon and Gladstone. This year, the project will install, monitor and collect data on drain buddies in new hotspots and encourage behaviour change using community-based social marketing techniques.

Coastal adaptation and ecosystem restoration in the lower Herbert

Coastal adaptation and ecosystem restoration in the lower Herbert

OzFish Unlimited supported by the Hinchinbrook Local Marine Advisory Committee and project partners will be undertaking a new Local Action project this year to improve awareness, understanding and local actions for coastal ecosystem restoration and adaptation in the lower Herbert. This habitat restoration project will deliver the design for a demonstration fishway at Tyto wetlands, conduct a coastal adaptation community forum and prepare a report on opportunities for community to contribute to improved outcomes for coastal ecosystem restoration and adaptation measures. The project will hold a citizen science community event to collect baseline fish data at the wetlands to inform subsequent monitoring activities to measure changes from the future fishway.

Targeted cigarette butt source reduction media campaign

Targeted cigarette butt source reduction media campaign

Reef Catchments supported by the Mackay Local Marine Advisory Committee are building on their first Local Action project in 2019 – 2020 to reduce litter at its source and prevent it from entering the Great Barrier Reef. Last year, the project delivered four community engagement events with 66 community volunteers that counted and sorted debris from 12 gross pollutant traps. The data identified cigarette butts as the most widespread and prolific pollutant in the region. This year, the litter and marine debris source reduction project will deliver an education and communication campaign to encourage smokers to stop tossing their cigarette butts.

Cape York Reef visitors interpretive signage

Cape York Reef visitors interpretive signage

South Cape York Catchments supported by Cape York Local Marine Advisory Committee and project partners will build on their first Local Action project in 2019 – 2020 that created a Northern Great Barrier Reef Visitors Guide to encourage environmentally-friendly behaviour in locals and tourists to protect Cape York’s iconic species and habitats. This year, the behaviour change project will create and install three interpretive signs in visitor hotspot locations to further increase awareness and encourage visitors to minimize their impacts on the environment. Surveys will be conducted before and after the installation of the signs to monitor effectiveness.

Strain the drains Townsville

Strain the drains Townsville

Townsville City Council supported by Townsville Local Marine Advisory Committee and project partners are building on a project delivered by Conservation Volunteers Australia in 2019 – 2020 that developed a Townsville Urban Marine Debris Strategy (the Strategy). Last year, the project conducted beach clean ups, created school education resources, analysed data from litter traps and drafted the Strategy. This year, the litter and marine debris source reduction project will install 20 litter traps to prevent litter entering the Great Barrier Reef through Ross Creek. The project will hold community engagement events, collect and analyse data from the traps, update the Strategy, and develop source reduction programs to address hotspot areas.

Twin Creek Restoration Project – Area D

Twin Creek Restoration Project – Area D

Whitsunday Regional Council supported by Whitsunday Local Marine Advisory Committee and project partners are building on their first Local Action Project in 2019 – 2020 to undertake stage 2 of their revegetation project. Last year, 1500 native trees were planted by the community to address erosion and water quality issues by restoring the riparian vegetation along this popular local creek that feeds into the Great Barrier Reef This year, the habitat restoration project will plant another 1500 native trees with the community including Whitsunday Landcare Catchment volunteers. This will further stabilise the degraded urban creek system and increase biodiversity. The site will be monitored, and an interpretive sign will be installed to increase awareness of the community planting site and the role that riparian vegetation plays in addressing water quality issues for the Great Barrier Reef.