Investments in the Reef

Investment Framework

Investment to support the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan (Reef 2050 Plan) was first driven by the Reef 2050 Investment Framework released in 2016. It fosters the significant breadth of commitment and contributions to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) from a range of partners, including traditional owners, industry, farmers, philanthropic organisations, Government and members of the local community.

The Investment Framework priorities largely remain relevant in the current setting along with other considerations. The Reef 2050 Plan identifies the following areas for investment:

  • Climate change – the biggest threat to the current and future health of the Reef is climate change. Investment to reduce emissions and climate impacts at a state, national and global level also benefit the Reef.
  • Water quality improvement – poor water quality is a system-wide challenge, with action needed to reduce nutrient, pesticide and sediment loads impacting the ecosystems of the Reef.
  • Integrated monitoring and reporting – integrated modelling, monitoring and reporting for the Reef and its adjacent catchments guide adaptive management decisions, track progress and inform investment.
  • Crown-of-thorns starfish control – preventing future outbreaks is key to protecting coral cover and enhancing the capacity of the Reef to recover from disturbances such as coral bleaching and tropical cyclones.
  • Traditional Owner priorities – partner with Traditional Owners to respect and deliver on their rights, obligations and aspirations for the Reef, including through formal and informal agreements (e.g. Traditional Use of Marine Resources Agreement Progam).
  • Sustainable fisheries – target investment in sustainable fisheries management to improve the health and resilience of the Reef as well as the social and ecological sustainability and economic viability of the fishing industry.
  • Modern marine park management – ensure that foundational management of the Great Barrier Reef remains world leading by modernising management tools to support the future needs of the Reef and those who use the marine parks. Governments have invested significantly in park management, and it is important that future investment supports leading practices.
  • Restoration and adaptation – invest in research, development and deployment of at-scale interventions on the Great Barrier Reef to help it adapt to, and recover from, the effects of climate change and other

The Commonwealth and Queensland Government investment to implement the Reef 2050 Plan stands at $3 billion over 10 years for the period 2014–15 to 2023–24. This is complemented by investments of other stakeholders.

For years the resources sector has provided voluntary financial and in-kind investments to GBR projects and more recently actions required to meet the targets of the Reef 2050 Plan, including but not limited to:

  • The operation of regional partnerships aimed at managing, monitoring and reporting on key Reef health indicators;
  • The restoration and management of critical ecosystems and habitats, such as the $7.95 million Raine Island turtle recovery project (see video below);
  • The operation of local community stewardship groups, such as the Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program, and associated programs; and
  • The ongoing monitoring of water quality across the GBR, such as the $2 million Future Reef ocean chemistry project (see video below).


These contributions are additional to the considerable compliance investments already delivered to initiatives such as extensive monitoring, field management and research.


Reef Trust and Reef Trust Partnership

The Reef Trust is a Commonwealth Government initiative designed to improve Reef health and resilience by taking the best available science and targeting investment to the highest priority threats to the Reef. It is one of the key mechanisms to assist with the delivery of the Reef 2050 Plan.

Since 2015, Reef Trust Investment Strategies have been developed and implemented in a phased approach to allow investments to be evaluated and adapted, so they remain responsive and target the key threats to the GBR.

In 2018, the Commonwealth Government announced a $443.3 million partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to help fund new and existing projects that protect and restore the Reef – delivering and building on the Reef 2050 Plan. The Partnership represents an elevation and escalation of effort – from governments, communities, Reef management, Traditional Owners and more.

The Grant Agreement between the Commonwealth Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation outlines the Partnership’s objective, the three outcomes to be achieved by the end of the Partnership and the six areas of focus, including funding allocations for each. The Foundation released its Investment Strategy for the Partnership in its first year and each year shares an Annual Work Plan which provides a detailed schedule of work for the year ahead, as a subset of an overarching five-year plan.