Joint media release: New strategy to protect Reef wetlands

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

  • The new Great Barrier Reef Wetlands Strategy outlines the government’s plans for wetland science, planning, coordination and management in Reef catchments.
  • Five key areas have been identified to enhance wetland protection in Queensland.
  • The announcement of the strategy coincides with World Wetlands Day.

To mark World Wetlands Day, the Federal and Queensland Labor governments have released a new strategy to better protect and restore wetlands in the Great Barrier Reef.

Wetlands are one of the secret weapons to help protect the Great Barrier Reef. They help improve water quality, reduce pollution and provide a home for iconic animals like dugongs and turtles.

Of course, they are also key to our fight against climate change – wetlands cover around six to nine per cent of the Earth’s surface and store a huge 35 per cent of global terrestrial carbon.

Wetlands also hold significant cultural and spiritual importance to First Nations communities who have been successfully managing them for thousands of years.

Unfortunately, wetlands in the Great Barrier Reef catchment have decreased by over 50 per cent since European settlement, and degradation of wetlands is a major cause of increased carbon emissions and biodiversity loss.

That’s why this new strategy is so important. The Reef 2050 Wetlands Strategy provides a blueprint for governments, scientists and communities to better protect and restore protect wetlands in the Reef and its catchments for our kids and grandkids.

The strategy is available here:

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

“If we are serious about protecting our reef and tackling climate change, then we know we have to better protect wetlands. They are a vital part of our environment – absorbing pollutants, providing habitat for iconic native animals like dolphins and green sea turtles, and storing carbon dioxide.

“One of the most important things we can do to protect the Great Barrier Reef and the animals and plants that call it home is improve the quality of water flowing into its pristine waters.

“And that means protecting and restoring our precious wetlands.

“This new strategy means we can all work together to protect and restore our wetlands and our precious Great Barrier Reef.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Innovation Leanne Linard:

“On top of protecting the Great Barrier Reef, wetlands are also valued by people for their livelihood, health, recreation and appreciation.

“Wetlands support Queensland’s primary industries by providing nurseries for fish and seafood to grow, and can protect communities from the effects of extreme climate events such as storm surges and floods.

“They also store carbon and provide habitat for many threatened bird, amphibian, fish and mammal species.

“The Reef 2050 Wetlands Strategy builds on the fantastic work already being done to protect our Great Barrier Reef catchment wetlands and outlines the next steps in ensuring the future of these delicate and important ecosystems.”

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

“Wetlands aren’t just an incredible part of our scenery in Queensland, they play an important role in maintaining the health of our Reef and homing some of our precious species.

“As recent weather events have shown us, all of our catchments, wetlands and waterways are connected. That’s why it’s so important we take this this region wide approach.

“This strategy will help us better protect these ecosystems, and in turn protect our Great Barrier Reef for generations to come.”

Background information:

The Reef 2050 Wetlands Strategy supports the objectives and outcomes of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, and increases effective land management practices with a focus on the values of wetlands and their catchments.

It sits alongside the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan and helps drive progress towards our important water quality targets for the Great Barrier Reef.