Joint media release: $17.48 million boost for local guardians of the Reef

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Minister for the Environment and Water
Senator Nita Green, Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Senator for Queensland

The Albanese Labor Government is today announcing $17.48 million for council-led projects that will contribute to the protection and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

Nineteen councils across Reef catchments in Queensland will deliver a range of shovel-ready projects under the Reef Guardian Councils program that support Reef protection and restoration activities. Activities include improving riparian, catchment and wetland habitats, reducing impact of threats such as feral species, and reducing carbon emissions.

Projects will bring immediate benefits to the environment, support delivery of the Reef 2050 Plan, and increase local community stewardship and participation in Reef protection activities, including with First Nations people.

The Reef Guardian Councils program is a partnership between local governments and the Australian Government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority which recognises community collaboration is central to better managing the Reef and surrounding regions.

Quotes attributable to Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek:

“We are committed to protecting our precious Great Barrier Reef and supporting the 64,000 jobs that depend on it.

“Protecting and restoring the Great Barrier Reef requires all levels of government and communities to work together.

“This funding will support local governments across Queensland to do fantastic projects like controlling feral pigs, reducing sediment run-off, restoring habitat, removing marine debris and clean energy upgrades.”

Quotes attributable to Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Senator Nita Green:

“Reef Guardian Councils, whether they are big or small, play an important role in addressing climate change and improving the health of our Great Barrier Reef.

“There are nineteen councils between Bundaberg and Cooktown in the Reef Guardian Councils Program, spanning an area of more than 300,000 square kilometres.

“I’m proud to support our Reef Guardian Councils to deliver local, practical projects right along the coast and in our Reef catchments that will make a real difference to their communities, while also contribute to improving the health of the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system in the world.”

Reef Guardian Councils grant projects:

Cairns Regional Council

  • ‘Clean Creeks’ – a partnership between Cairns Regional Council and the region’s Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger organisations to reduce the amount of litter entering the reef lagoon from the Cairns region. 
  • Piloting battery electric passenger vehicles in the Cairns Regional Council fleet.
  • ‘Conservation Partnerships’ - an initiative to revegetate bushland and riparian corridors in the Cairns region.

Cassowary Coast Regional Council

  • ‘Road upgrades to reduce land-based runoff’ - address the Reef 2050 outcomes by reducing the impacts from land-based activities by developing improved resilience and methodology in unsealed road management in the wet tropics.
  • ‘Upgrades and Strategies to limit the impacts of Climate Change’ – mitigate the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef by undertaking upgrades to solar network, install new generation capacity and enabling infrastructure to support the transition to an electrified vehicle fleet, and develop a Climate change strategy in 2023.
  • ‘Reinstatement and Rejuvenation of Wetlands’ - Traditional knowledge-led wetland re-instatement in Innisfail to engage wider community in a practical restoration demonstration while improving urban and agricultural water quality outcomes and contributing to the overall improvement water quality of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

    Douglas Shire Council

  • ‘Erosion sediment control and stormwater education and compliance program’ - support both Council and the Construction Industry in implementing erosion sediment control (ESC) and stormwater education and compliance program.
  • ‘Wastewater Treatment System Improvement and Education Pilot Program’ - identify groundwater levels and conduct ground water monitoring in Douglas Shire’s non-sewered coastal communities to ensure only suitable On-site Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS), that won’t contaminate groundwater or stormwater and, that meet the Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code 2019 and Australian Standard are installed.
  • ‘Solar Installation’ - help the Council manage its climate risks by transitioning to renewable energy source, reducing its energy consumption and carbon footprint.
  • ‘Feral Pig Control program’ - Integrated and coordinated approach to feral pig management to protect urban and natural waterways from erosion, sediment and pathogen run off, vegetation damage, and minimise impacts to marine plants and animals.

Hinchinbrook Shire Council

  • ‘Installation of Roof Top Solar’ - This transformative initiative involves a series of well-coordinated activities spread across three years to ensure the successful integration of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems into Council facilities.

Isaac Regional Council

  • ‘Install Solar Power Systems on Community Facilities’ – This is a three-year program involving the procurement, installation and commissioning of solar power systems on Council community facilities and assets in the Isaac Region. 
  • ‘Water Quality Improvements through Feral Animal Control’ -Coordination of enduring feral pig control activities incorporating aerial culling in the Connors and Isaac River Catchments.
  • ‘Restoring coastal habitat for marine species’ -engaging two environmental groups to restore coastal habitat for marine species.
    • The Koinmerburra Aboriginal Corporation at the St. Lawrence wetlands to protect marine fish nursery habitat from weed inundation and biodiversity loss.
    • Sarina Landcare Notch Point to protect a turtle nesting beach and a critically endangered ecological community that shelters seabirds at Notch Point.

Livingstone Shire Council

  • ‘Our Living Coast Restoration’ projects - a partnership between Livingstone Shire Council and the Darumbal people traditional custodians to rehabilitate native plant communities that will trap sand, take up nutrients and improve water quality.
  • ‘Oxford Road Water Quality & Habitat’ project - a partnership between Livingstone Shire Council and the Darumbal people traditional custodians to grow 15,000 native plants for planting into the Oxford Road sites and other waterway sites to create diverse native plant communities that will trap sediment, take up nutrients and improve water quality.
  • ‘Yeppoon Solar Retrofit project’ installations of 100% off-grid, stand-alone solar powered facilities - streetlights with 2 solar panels and 4 batteries and solar BBQs to replace a gas BBQ includes signage highlighting the threat of climate change to the Great Barrier Reef.

Mackay Regional Council

  • Protecting and enhancing the region’s natural environment, and specifically to maintaining sustainable fish stocks across the region.
  • Construct a rock ramp fishway allowing fish to move from pool to pool and around the Jolimont Creek Weir.
  • Install an aerator in Goosepond Creek to improve oxygen levels throughout this system, making the creek better habitat for key fish species such as barramundi.
  • Add Gross Pollutant Traps to the stormwater network within Mackay to trap rubbish and other debris.

Rockhampton Regional Council

  • The Rockhampton Airport Solar project will deliver a 976kW solar system at the Rockhampton Airport Terminal.
  • ‘limiting the impacts of climate change’ by providing renewable energy to lead our community by example and cost-effectively accelerate the local transition towards net zero emissions.

Tablelands Regional Council

  • ‘Soil Conservation and Stormwater Drainage Improvements project’ in the Tolga area to improve sediment control and increase stormwater quality.
  • ‘Priors Creek Riparian Restoration and Interpretive Walk project’ aims to improve water quality through riparian restoration, revegetation and erosion control while offering education and awareness to the local community and visiting public.
  • ‘Community Feral Pig Program’ - Deliver a coordinated, collaborative, community-based feral pig control program for the Tablelands.
  • ‘Alternate Roadside Vegetation Trial’ - Planting vegetation and tree alleys along roadsides, which will have major benefits for the environment as well as reduce maintenance costs.
  • ‘Solar Panel Installation’ - Install solar panels on existing buildings owned by Tablelands Regional Council to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promoting environmental sustainability, and contribute to the Reef 2050 objectives. ‘Riparian Restoration on Private Land’ - Improve the condition of land, land management practices and the overall health of the regional waterways.

Townsville City Council

  • ‘The Riverway Precinct Renewable Energy Microgrid project’ will enable Townsville City Council (TCC) to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions through the installation and integration of a new battery energy storage system (BESS) at its regionally important community facility, the Riverway Precinct.
  • ‘Landscape-scale Restoration’ project will deliver actions to enhance water quality outcomes within the Black-Ross basins in Reef Catchments.
    • Delivering holistic restorative actions – collaborating with First Nations.
    • Gully restoration, enhancing remnant native vegetation communities, exploring and integrating water quality and carbon credits.
    • Provide resourcing to continue, build-upon and amplify landscape-scale restorative actions TCC has been delivering.

Whitsunday Regional Council

  • ‘The Integrated Pest Management Project’ will conduct aerial shooting activities to reduce feral pig populations, survey and eradicate Yellow Crazy Ant infestations, remove Leucaena weed in coastal areas which are or may impact native vegetation and its biodiversity.
  • ‘Improve stormwater quality project’ will improve water quality entering Pioneer Bay and the GBR through monitoring, education, riparian restoration and marine debris clearing. Activities include:
    • Erosion and Sediment Control training for Council staff and the development industry. 
    • water quality monitoring .
    • using drones for dugong and marine turtle population monitoring in Pioneer Bay.
    • marine debris removal from foreshore areas.

Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Council

  • Upgrading local cemetery carpark and road infrastructure to decrease erosion and sediment run-off and assist preservation of culturally significant site. 
  • Direct involvement by Wujal Wujal community.

Bundaberg Regional Council

  • ‘Washpool Creek Drain Naturalisation Stage 2’ - naturalise 350m of the Washpool Creek corridor between FE Walker Street and Hargreaves Street, providing significant stormwater quality improvements for stormwater entering the receiving areas of both Bundaberg Creek and Baldwin Swamp Environmental Park.
  • ‘Washpool Creek Naturalisation Stage 4’ - re-naturalisation of heavily modified watercourse, improve stormwater quality, urban cooling and local biodiversity, to improve Reef health by improving water quality of stormwater flowing into the Reef lagoon.
  • ‘Waterways Rubbish Removal’ – remove significant amounts of rubbish from three major local rivers in the Bundaberg Region and prevent this rubbish from becoming harmful marine debris in the Great Barrier Reef.
  • ‘Telegraph Road Detention Basin Improvements’ - enable it to remain free draining, vegetated with native trees, shrubs and groundcovers to establish an ephemeral wetland ecosystem and removing urban pollutants to improve habitat and biodiversity.

Burdekin Shire Council

  • Removal of weeds to improve water quality, and to rehabilitate and restore land, using mechanical weed removal methods to minimise use of herbicides.
  • Control and reduction in numbers of feral deer to mitigate the damage caused on environment and impacts on water quality affecting the Reef.
  • Education on Wheels to deliver field days, public, schools and community events to build relationships and share knowledge. 
  • Reducing the Council’s carbon footprint with the installation of solar panels on 3 council building

Central Highlands Regional Council

  • Control of feral pig population in Springsure, Capella, Duaringa and Bauhinia areas of the Central Highlands Regional Council.
  • Controlling feral pig populations will improve riparian habitat quality leading to improved water quality entering the Reef.

Cook Shire Council

  • ‘Road upgrades’ will include bitumen sealing and herbicide treatment of native regrowth and invasive plants on problematic roads within the catchment area.
    • Improved drainage structures, coupled with road upgrades, will minimise runoff and further environmental impacts thus mitigating damage to the Great Barrier Reef.
  • ‘Gravel Pit Remediation & Installation of Retention Tank’ will involve sediment reduction methods at the Mt Tully Gravel pit with remediation methods tailored to ensure maximum benefit to the Great Barrier Reef.
    • Installation of a 40,000L retention tank at the Cooktown Sewage Treatment Plant to reduce the volume of untreated sewerage being pumped into the Endeavour River during rainfall events.

Gladstone Regional Council

  • Facilitate Gladstone Regional Councils transition towards a net zero emissions future. 
  • Deliver a renewable energy project at the Tannum Sands Waste-water treatment facility to generate sustainable energy.
  • Undertake energy audits for facilities and Council assets.
  • Optimise energy consumption and nitrogen-removal at waste-water treatment plants by installing Dissolved Oxygen (DO) instrumentation and undertaking studies and Receiving Environment Monitoring Plan Development.

Mareeba Shire Council

  • Increase capacity and strengthen the sewer network in Mareeba and Kuranda by remediating sewer manholes in the Barron River catchment.
  • Delivering on-ground activities to replace and repair manholes. 
  • Commissioning of manholes, construction completion and handover to Council for future operation and update of asset management plan.

Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council

  • ‘Installation of Above Ground Fuel Tanks’ to prevent soil and water contamination from potential fuel leaks and safeguard the Great Barrier Reef. 
  • ‘Installation of a Surface Aeration System’ to assist with the oxidation of ammonia and remove carbon present in the wastewater, which will improve the quality of the final effluent prior to discharge to the local creek.
  • ‘Sewage Treatment Plant Upgrade’ at Yarrabah Aboriginal Councils Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) to improve the quality of the final effluent prior to discharge to the local creek.