Understanding Biophysical Interactions In The Great Barrier Reef Catchments: Better Landscape Management For Water Quality Outcomes

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Elisabeth N Bui, CSIRO Land and Water Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia, Scott Wilkinson, CSIRO Canberra, Canberra, Australia and Rebecca Bartley, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Seattle, Seattle, WA, United States
Sediment input to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) lagoon has had deleterious impacts on seagrass and coral ecosystems. The response of the Australian government has been to develop policies to: (i) reverse the impact of threats from sediments and nutrients, and improve water quality and aquatic health of the GBR lagoon; and (ii) to facilitate the uptake of sustainable farming and land management practices that deliver improved ecosystem services, by at least 30 per cent of farmers. The Reef2050 Long term sustainability plan aims to identify priority locations for on-ground investment of remediation options that will result in a reduction of constituent loads to the GBR. Recent sediment tracing studies indicate that subsoil from erosion features such as gullies and channel banks are the dominant contributors of sediment in the GBR catchments. Better control of gully and streambank erosion and restoration of riparian habitats are therefore necessary. Here we review the evidence for bank erosion in the GBR catchments and how scientific evidence on feedback relationships between climate- geochemistry-vegetation-landforms can be used to develop better guidelines for streambank and gully re-vegetation.