Coral Reefs

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The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is composed of 3,000 reefs stretching 2,300 kilometres along the Queensland coast. The reef creates critical habitat for countless marine organisms, and also provides essential ecosystem services that benefit people. The reef structure buffers the coast from waves and storms. The habitat supports seafood resources and forms a major component of Queensland’s tourism industry. The GBR is a fundamental component of Australian cultural identity and encases millions of years of geological records in the reefs limestone layers. A growing field of research shows that reef organisms may hold important medical compounds.

Within the NQ Dry Tropics Natural Resource Management (NRM) boundaries are mostly nearshore reefs, including fringing reefs such as those around the Palm Islands and Magnetic Island. Nearshore reefs have close connections with coastal habitats (such as mangroves and wetlands). Their location also exposes these reefs to greater impacts of coastal and catchment activities.

Water-quality is particularly important for nearshore reef habitats, given their proximity to catchment-based runoff that carries sedimentation and pollution. The Australian and Queensland Government's Reef Water Quality Protection Plan (Reef Plan) aims to improve the water quality entering the GBR “To ensure that by 2020 the quality of water entering the reef from broadscale land use has no detrimental impact on the health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.” Reducing threats from water quality helps to build reef resilience for broader global reef threats such as climate change.

The iconic Great Barrier Reef is not only vast, but complex. The Burdekin Dry Tropics region hosts numerous organisations dedicated to researching, managing and conserving the reef.

Learn more about local reefs:

Find out how to get involved:

Discover reef relevant organisations and projects:

Related information


Reefcheck logo.jpg
Authored by Reef Check Australia, January 2015

Foliose coral at Middle Reef, © Reef Check Australia 2015 Photo reproduced with the permission of Reef Check Australia http://www.reefcheckaustralia.org/
Foliose coral at Middle Reef, © Reef Check Australia 2015
Photo reproduced with the permission of Reef Check Australia