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Paddock to Reef program

The Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program (Paddock to Reef program) is a collaboration involving governments, industry bodies, regional natural resource management bodies, landholders and research organisations.

Monitoring and modelling from the paddock to reef allows us to measure and report on progress towards Reef Plan's goal and targets.

Funded jointly by the Australian and Queensland governments, the program is a highly innovative approach to collecting and integrating data and information on agricultural management practices, catchment indicators, catchment loads and the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Paddock to Reef program was established in 2009. Implementing an updated program is one of the key actions under the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan 2013. The objective of the program is to measure and report on progress towards Reef Plan's goal and targets through annual Report Cards.

Information from the program enables partners to evaluate, prioritise and continuously improve the efficiency and effectiveness of on-ground Reef Plan actions. It uses cutting-edge monitoring and modelling tools that link across each of the scales (paddock, catchment and marine) to enable reporting in the short-to-medium term.

There are 10 inter-related components of the program, which are integrated through a common assessment and reporting framework:

  • Management practice adoption—estimates management practice benchmarks and change across major agricultural industries of the reef catchments.
  • Paddock monitoring—a range of paddock trials are conducted in various regions to provide on-ground evidence of water quality improvements from different land management practices. Results from trials are detailed in a series of case studies.
  • Paddock modelling—models a suite of farm management scenarios to assess water quality improvements across different soil and climatic zones.
  • Ground cover—annual mapping and reporting of ground cover levels; also used to improve water quality model parameterisation. Ground cover affects soil processes including infiltration, runoff and surface erosion. Low ground cover increases sediment loss.
  • Riparian vegetation—mapping and reporting on riparian vegetation extent and cover every four years; also used to improve water quality model parameterisation. Riparian vegetation helps remove water-borne pollutants and provides stability to stream banks and adjoining areas to reduce sediment loss.
  • Wetland extent—mapping and reporting on the historic and current extent of wetlands and change in wetland extent every four years. Wetlands provide a natural filtration system to protect water quality. Destruction of wetlands can result in increased sediment and nutrients flowing into the reef.
  • Wetland values and processes—assessing and reporting on the state of, and pressures on, wetland environmental values and associated wetland processes to inform management of wetlands and catchments for improved landscape function and water quality.
  • Catchment loads monitoring—tracks long-term trends in water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef lagoon from high priority catchments and is used to validate the modelling.
  • Catchment loads modelling—estimates average annual loads of key pollutants for each of the 35 catchments draining to the Great Barrier Reef and assesses changes against baseline levels due to improvements in land management.
  • Marine monitoring—assesses trends in ecosystem health and resilience indicators for the Great Barrier Reef in relation to water quality and its linkages to end-of-catchment loads.

More information about the program can be found in the Paddock to Reef overview (PDF 3.45MB)

Last updated:
31 October 2016
Last reviewed:
23 March 2015

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