Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment
The Australian and Queensland governments are working together to undertake a comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the adjacent coastal zone under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
The strategic assessment will ensure that we continue to achieve best practice in managing a balance between growth and environment protection.
In accordance with the EPBC Act, the assessment will address impacts on Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES), including world heritage properties, nationally threatened species and ecological communities.
The comprehensive strategic assessment will, in part, respond to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee's decision of July 2012 that the Australian Government undertake a comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
There are two key components of the strategic assessment – a marine component and a coastal zone component.
The marine component, led by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), will look at the arrangements in place to manage and protect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area.
The coastal zone component, led by the Queensland Government, will assess how Queensland's coastal management, planning and development framework manages environmental protection within the Great Barrier Reef region.
The coastal zone strategic assessment requires the preparation of two reports:
- a program report which describes in detail the Queensland management, planning and development framework (the Program) being assessed; and
- a strategic assessment report which assesses the potential impacts on MNES from the implementation of the Program.
Terms of reference
The terms of reference define how the Program will be assessed with respect to the identification and protection of MNES.
They were developed by Queensland Government in cooperation with the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
The draft terms of reference were available for public comment from February to April 2012. A total of 377 submissions were received by the Queensland Government on the coastal component.
The following key issues were raised during the public consultation and were considered in finalising the terms of reference:
- defining the scope of management arrangements to be considered
- what methodologies will be used for the strategic assessment
- consistency between the Queensland and GBRMPA terms of reference
- criteria for selecting demonstration cases
- how cumulative impacts would be considered
- independent assessment of management effectiveness
- explicit reference be made to the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Area
The submissions have informed the final terms of reference which were endorsed by the Australian Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities on 31 August 2012.
The terms of reference have been revised to:
- provide greater detail and clarity on the intent of the assessment
- require an independent review
- include criteria for choosing demonstration cases
- have more specific reference to Outstanding Universal Value and Ecologically Sustainable Development
- include recommendations for change to seek to achieve a net benefit for the MNES in the Great Barrier Reef Coastal Zone
The Queensland Government is committed to a timely and practical strategic assessment focusing on assessing the impacts of actions under Queensland's systems and planning processes to ensure these systems and processes adequately take into account MNES.
The Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities it expected to release the draft program and strategic assessment reports for public consultation in late 2013.
Find out more information on the:
Documents available for download:
- Final terms of reference ( 284 KB)
- consultation report ( 290 KB)
- Terms of reference fact sheet ( 245 KB)
- Great Barrier Reef Ports Strategy fact sheet ( 993 KB)
- Great Barrier Reef Coastal Zone Strategic Assessment Frequently Asked Questions ( 92 KB)
- Great Barrier Reef Coastal Zone map ( 882 KB)
Related Australian Government links:
- Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment fact sheet
- A guide to undertaking strategic assessment
- Strategic Assessment under the EPBC Act
- Facts about the Great barrier Reef World Heritage Area