The Reef Trust is a $700 million Australian Government program established to provide innovative, targeted investment to the Great Barrier Reef region, focused on improving water quality, restoring coastal ecosystem health and enhancing species protection.
The Reef Trust is one of the key mechanisms assisting in the delivery of the Reef 2050 Plan, focusing on known critical areas for investment – improving water quality and coastal habitat along the Great Barrier Reef, controlling the current outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish and protecting threatened and migratory species, particularly dugong and turtles. The Reef Trust has a strong focus on evaluation and adaptive management, to ensure it effectively contributes to the long-term sustainable management of the Great Barrier Reef.
From 2008-2013 Regional NRM Organisations and Industry Groups were individually contracted by the Australian Government to deliver reef-related programs.
In 2015 the NRM partners proposed a collaborative approach to deliver the Reef Trust III initiative by establishing the Reef Alliance. Industry was very supportive of this approach and 12 of the 14 Reef Alliance partners submitted a collaborative bid. The Reef Alliance: Growing a Great Barrier Reef Program (GGBR) commenced in May 2016 and is an integrated approach to advance farmer practices beyond industry best management practice (BMP). It fast tracks the implementation of innovative practices and builds on an established collaborative partnership to implement an integrated program that encourages consistent approaches, creates efficiencies and avoids duplication.
Reef Alliance partners include: AgForce, Australian Banana Growers’ Council, Burnett Mary Regional Group, CANEGROWERS, Cape York Natural Resource Management Ltd, Fitzroy Basin Association, Growcom, NQ Dry Tropics Ltd., Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation, Queensland Farmers’ Federation, Reef Catchments (Mackay Whitsunday Isaac) Ltd, QLD NRM Regional Groups Collective, Terrain NRM and WWF- Australia.
The Reef Trust III initiative targets five agriculture commodities: sugarcane, grazing, horticulture, broad acre cropping and dairy. Key outcomes and efficiencies of the GGBR Program are the development of a shared database, one consistent monitoring and evaluation framework, one reporting mechanism and reef-wide communication. Through these efficiencies there is more funding available on the ground. Leadership at every level is required to improve alignment and integration of Reef water quality programs, investment, delivery systems and communications to ensure all key stakeholders are combining their efforts.