Independent science panel

The Independent Science Panel provides strong independent science-based and technical advice to the Australian and Queensland governments on water quality science needs. It is a working group of the Reef 2050 Independent Expert Panel which provides broader scientific advice on implementing the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.

The Panel’s vision is:

“To champion quality science to inform policy, planning and management for supporting Reef and catchment ecosystem health.”

The Panel:

  • Provides timely response to requests from the Independent Expert Panel and the Executive Steering Committee.
  • Provides advice on knowledge gaps, science priorities and delivery associated with the overall implementation of the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.
  • Conducts scientific reviews of Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan reports, and makes specific recommendations about the direction, content and details of future activities.
  • Conduct scientific reviews of the Wet Tropics Healthy Waterways Partnership, Dry Tropics Partnership and Mackay Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership reports.
  • Provides timely independent scientific advice and review to support Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan implementation, monitoring and reporting:
    • be scientifically defensible and achievable
    • be undertaken in a scientifically credible and cost-effective manner
    • be designed, implemented and managed according to best scientific and environmental standards
    • use contemporary, fit-for-purpose methods of data collection, quality assurance and statistical methodologies
    • have processes in place to effectively integrate the various program activities (and where appropriate other related activities)
    • communicate the findings in a timely and appropriate manner to both technical and non-technical audiences.
  • Provides advice on the possible inclusion of new and innovative methods to support monitoring and reporting activities.

For more information, read the Panel’s Principles of Operation (PDF, 195.3KB) and Terms of Reference (PDF, 196.5KB) .


The Panel has a skills-based membership, including an independent chair.

The members are:

  • Dr John Rolfe (A/Independent Chair, CQ University), expertise: resource economics
  • Dr Peter Doherty (formerly Australian Institute of Marine Science), expertise: marine, ecology and modelling
  • Dr Eva Abal (International RiverFoundation), expertise: water quality and ecosystem health target setting and monitoring, information integration, synthesis, reporting and communication
  • Dr Graham Bonnett (CSIRO), expertise: sugarcane production
  • Dr Andrew Ash (formerly CSIRO), expertise: grazing land ecology, climate impacts and adaptation
  • Mr Hugh Yorkston (formerly Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority), expertise: marine monitoring, coastal ecosystems
  • Dr Jenny Stauber (CSIRO), expertise: ecotoxicology, environmental risk assessment, contaminants, water and sediment quality guidelines
  • Dr Bill Venables (formerly CSIRO), expertise: mathematics and statistics