Last week history was made when Queensland’s agricultural industries, regional Natural Resource Management (NRM) bodies and conservation groups focused on the Great Barrier Reef by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together to help protect the reef.
The MoU commits all signatories in the Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) led Reef Alliance partnership to working together and with individual land managers in all catchments to assist in securing the future health of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Reef Alliance represents an effective and ground-breaking development in catchment landscape management in Australia.
Since 2008 industry, NRM and conservation groups have been delivering the Reef Program (formerly Reef Rescue).
These diverse groups have been able to develop and deliver innovative programs, integrate incentives, extension services, research and adaptive landscape planning to improve the adoption of agricultural practices that deliver water quality outcomes and business benefits in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon catchments.
The success of the past eight years has come via Reef Alliance member projects that have supported rural land managers to change practices and improve farming systems.
This in turn has generated improved water quality and business viability.
The experience and capacity that members of the Alliance have brought to the table has delivered outcomes that are of value to both private and government investors and land managers – and most importantly this has improved Great Barrier Reef water quality.
The MoU is another step in consolidating the collaborative approach of Alliance members to delivering the water quality outcomes for the Great Barrier Reef that the community expects.
The MoU will enable advocacy and promotion of partners’ aspirations aligned to Reef 2050.
It will also facilitate constructive discussion and debate concerning agricultural best management practice and land use targeted at improvement in catchment and reef water quality and ecosystem health.
Operationally the partners will seek to increase total investment and resources (both public and private) to maintain program delivery across the entire Great Barrier Reef and be focused on cumulative impacts.
Partners will focus on reef health and water quality and also the social, cultural and economic viability of land users, industries and communities.
This will encourage innovation and transformational change in land use and its validation, endorsement and ongoing extension to land managers.
QFF is proud that it has been able to work constructively with key stakeholders to help secure the financial success and ongoing investment in the social capital required for the co-existence of both the Great Barrier Reef and our agricultural sector in Queensland.
This MoU is important for fulfilling our responsibility as land managers and as members of the broader community.
The next couple of years are critical in demonstrating effort and achieving targeted outcomes, so an appropriate investment will be imperative in influencing the future of the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.
The Reef Alliance is committed to working with the Queensland and Australian Governments in the implementation of initiatives that improve the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef.
MOU signatories are: 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) Limited, Regional Groups Collective, Terrain NRM and WWF – Australia. – Stuart Armitage, QFF President