Funded By:

Jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments.


The Great Barrier Reef continues to face increasing threats from a range of pressures impacting its ecological significance and chance of survival.

The Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan 2017-2022 (Reef 2050 WQIP), a joint commitment of the Australian and Queensland governments to address the issues in the Reef, seeks to improve the quality of water flowing from adjacent catchments to the Reef, including from the Burnett Mary region.

Paddock to Reef was established to support Reef 2050 WQIP, evaluating management practice adoption and effectiveness, catchment condition, pollutant runoff and marine condition.

Dependent on collaboration across the multitude of stakeholders, the project aims to measure and report on water quality factors that impact Reef health, while sharing project information with stakeholders in each Reef catchment area. The program adopts an innovative approach to collecting and integrating data on agricultural management practices, catchment loads and the health of the Great Barrier Reef.


The long-term (2050) outcome for the Reef 2050 WQIP is that ‘Good water quality sustains the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef, builds resilience, improves ecosystem health and benefits communities’.


The Paddock to Reef program was established in 2009 to support the Reef 2050 WQIP via a robust monitoring and evaluation program. BMRG is one of 20 collaborative partners, including other Natural Resource Management organisations, government, industry, private landowners and research organisations, committed to the Paddock to Reef program.


The broader scope for the Paddock to Reef program is outlined below:

  • Monitor, interpret and report on water quality status and trends and related ecosystem health in the Great Barrier Reef, and the pressures and drivers of water quality condition from the Great Barrier Reef catchment.
  • Report on the progress towards the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan targets, objectives and long-term outcome through the Reef water quality report card.
  • Develop and improve the evidence base that provides the foundation for learning and improvement to support adaptive management for actions within the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.
  • Provide knowledge and insights to enable partners to evaluate, prioritise and continuously improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan delivery and implementation at Great Barrier Reef-wide, regional and catchment scales.
  • Provide the primary mechanism for evaluating the water quality theme of the Reef 2050 Plan and in conjunction with the regional report cards, the Catchment and Estuaries theme of the Reef Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program.

BMRG continues to share data and project information with other collaborative partners and ensures all other BMRG projects meet this brief.

Work Done to Date:

BMRG coordinated and hosted the 2022 Burnett Mary Regional Integrated Science Forum in Gympie on April 20 and 21, highlighting Paddock to Reef initiatives in the region. The Forum highlighted how data is collected and reported on, as well as on-ground results across a variety of scopes and land uses.

Future Work:

Sugarcane pesticide application data collected by the Paddock to Reef program is supplied to the program water quality monitors and program modelers, ensuring accuracy of modelled data and water quality sample analyses. Pesticide data from cane growers within five sub-catchments have been collected.

A factsheet regarding these pesticide surveys has been developed.

Regional Reef Water Quality Report Card:

The Reef water quality report card measures progress towards the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan targets, objectives and long-term outcome. The information in these reports determines the success of actions and identifies whether further measures need to be taken to address water quality in the Great Barrier Reef. The report card outlines results from the Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program. In the future, the Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program will provide a comprehensive understanding of how the broader Reef 2050 Plan is progressing.

The interactive Reef Water Quality Report card can be found at, or click here for an overview of Burnett Mary outcomes.