Reef program receives Queensland Premier’s award

8 Feb 2021
Great Barrier Reef
A coral garden in the Great Barrier Reef (Credit: Kristin Hoel).

A world-leading program to improve water quality flowing to the Great Barrier Reef has been recognised with a Queensland Premier’s Award for Excellence.

The Paddock to Reef Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program, involving UQ’s Associate Professor Michael Warne, is part of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan and aims to improve the quality of water entering the Reef and to improve the Reef’s health and resilience.

“The Great Barrier Reef is in decline and a major contributor, and one that can readily be controlled, is water quality,” Dr Warne said.

“To improve water quality, we need to work with the agricultural sector to improve land management practices that will reduce the amount of contaminants – such as eroded soil, nutrients and pesticides – entering creeks and rivers and then entering the Reef lagoon.

Led by the Department of Environment and Science, the program involves Australian and Queensland government agencies, industry bodies, regional Natural Resource Management bodies, landholders and research organisations – including UQ.

“Together, we integrate monitoring and modelling from the farm paddock to the Reef, evaluating management practice adoption and effectiveness, catchment condition, pollutant run-off and marine conditions.”

Dr Warne said it was wonderful to have the ground-breaking work recognised at the highest levels of the Queensland Government.

“It’s a phenomenal feeling, and will help us maintain our zeal, to continue working to save the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

“While definite progress has been made in reducing pollutants entering the Reef, there is still more to do, but we are always making improvements.

“For example, just this year we developed a new method that can estimate the toxicity of mixtures of 22 common pesticides and developed models that can predict the toxicity of pesticide mixtures in other waterways.

“We need to do more work with farmers to help adoption of better land management practices.

“And as real-time water quality monitoring probes become more affordable, the Queensland Government is installing many more probes to increase spatial and temporal data capture, as well as working to make water quality monitoring data available in real-time for everyone to view.

“We all need to be working hard and fast to ensure our Reef is thriving for generations to come.”

Media: Dr Michael Warne, michael.warne@uq.edu.au, +61 424 133 053; Dominic Jarvis, UQ Communications, dominic.jarvis@uq.edu.au, +61 413 334 924.

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