Science and research

All plans for managing the Great Barrier Reef are based on the best available scientific evidence, in particular the 2017 Scientific Consensus Statement.

The statement is a major independent review of land-based impacts on Reef water quality and ecosystem condition which underpins the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.

Scientific Consensus Statement review

A multidisciplinary group of scientists with expertise in Reef water quality science and management is undertaking the latest review. The Australian and Queensland Chief Scientists are providing oversight of the review process and the Reef science advisory bodies are providing independent advice. The review is being led by C2O Consulting.

The updated statement will provide a common understanding of the most up-to-date scientific information for policy and management decision making. The aim is to build trust and confidence in the science while also improving accessibility to the evidence.

You can read more on the Scientific Consensus Statement communication and engagement platform.

2017 Scientific Consensus Statement

For the 2017 Statement, over 1600 published scientific papers and reports including monitoring and field data were synthesised by a multidisciplinary group of 48 scientists. The lead authors, along with the Reef Water Quality Independent Science Panel, further synthesised this evidence to arrive at a consensus (i.e. general agreement) that forms the Consensus Statement (PDF, 1.1MB) .

The summary of peer reviewed, published evidence forms the supporting chapters.

A formal review by the Reef Water Quality Independent Science Panel and two independent reviewers was undertaken prior to publishing.

It is this synthesis of scientific research that underpins actions for protecting the Reef, not one single piece of research, researcher or organisation.

Other science

In addition, every five years, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority prepares an Outlook Report that provides an independent assessment of the health, condition, use, management arrangements and long-term outlook for the Reef.

The Outlook Report 2019 identifies the Reef is facing significant pressures ranging in scale from local to global.

In particular, the Outlook Report identifies initiatives to halt and reverse the effects of climate change at a global level and effectively improving water quality at a regional scale are the most urgent to improve the Reef’s long-term outlook.

The Reef 2050 Water Quality Research, Development and Innovation Strategy guides investment, creation and implementation of the knowledge and research required to achieve the targets, objectives and long-term outcomes of the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.

The Reef Water Quality Independent Science Panel provides advice on implementing and monitoring progress against the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.

Farm management practices promoted by the governments are based on the best available science and guided by industry-led expertise. They focus on improving Reef water quality while improving and maintaining grower productivity and profitability.