Protecting the values of the Great Barrier Reef

Located in tropical north eastern Queensland, the Wet Tropics NRM region is an expansive area of some 2.2 million hectares. It is a place of great beauty and possibly the world’s greatest ecological diversity, and is the only region to boast two contrasting World Heritage Areas side by side – the Wet Tropical rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef.

The Natural Decisions team has recently commenced a new project, assisting Terrain NRM in developing a Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP) for the Wet Tropics. This project is supported by Terrain NRM, through funding from the Australian Government Reef Programme.

Water Quality Improvement Plans (WQIPs) are a vital part of the Australian and Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Protection Plan (Reef Plan). The 2013 Reef Plan states that its long term goal is “to ensure that by 2020 the quality of water entering the reef from broad scale land use has no detrimental impact on the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.”


Looking towards Cairns from near Kuranda, over the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon.

A WQIP is designed to identify the main issues impacting waterways and the marine environment from land-based activities and to identify and prioritise management actions that will halt or reverse the trend of declining water quality within an NRM region.  This is done, using a wide range of resources and scientific findings, by identifying the following:

  • issues affecting water quality
  • waterway uses and values
  • management goals and objectives
  • ways to monitor and assess effective management
Mulgrave River

The Mulgrave River, near Gordonvale south of Cairns.

Terrain NRM has engaged us to assist in the development of the WQIP, by undertaking an INFFER analysis looking at the cost-effectiveness of achieving ecologically relevant targets required to protect the key values associated with the Great Barrier Reef.  By incorporating local industry knowledge and information, and working together with Trop Water at James Cook University and QDAFF, we will be assessing the costs and benefits of reaching these targets in one of the world’s most beautiful and biodiverse landscapes.



Posted 24 January 2014 in News