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Great Barrier Reef contributing catchments

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Overview

Wise management of wetlands is vital for protecting the Outstanding Universal Values of the Great Barrier Reef. As many wetlands are located on private property, it is a priority to work in partnership with landowners to achieve the best outcomes for everyone and the environment.

The Wetlands of the Great Barrier Reef catchments brochure promotes the values of the wetlands. It outlines how wetlands are important for improving water quality, as habitat for fish and other wildlife, and for tourism and recreational opportunities.

The Great Barrier Reef—Our wetlands is a short two minute video that highlights the importance of wetlands in the catchments of the Great Barrier Reef. It features interviews with North Queenslanders who talk about how they value wetlands.

Wetlands and the Great Barrier Reef builds on the previous video—The Great Barrier Reef—Our wetlands. This 11 minute video explores the importance of wetlands in the Reef catchments more fully.

The Report Card 2014 - Great Barrier Reef-wide summary which measures progress towards Reef Plan's goals and targets included wetland extent, derived from wetlands mapping. A separate case study outlines a pilot project which reports on wetland environmental values and processes.

The Queensland Government Great Barrier Reef web site has information on the Reef, the World Heritage Area and priorities and plans.

The Wetlands in the Great Barrier Reef Catchments Management Strategy 2016–21 supports the The Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan and the Reef Water Quality Improvement Plan 2013, setting out a framework for the improved management of the wetlands of the Great Barrier Reef catchments. It builds on the achievements of the Queensland Wetlands Program and recognises wetlands as vital to the health of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem and its catchments.

This strategy includes five themes: improved information; planning; on-ground management; communication and education; and evaluation, review and improvement.

The 2017 Scientific Consensus Statement for the Great Barrier Reef is a review of scientific knowledge on water quality issues in the Great Barrier Reef. The statement was produced by a multidisciplinary group of scientists, with oversight from the Reef Independent Science Panel. It arrives at a consensus on the current understanding of the Great Barrier Reef system, and evaluates the ability of current initiatives to meet water quality targets set in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan 2017–2022.

A key theme of the statement is the importance of whole-of-catchment management. The complex interactions between wetlands and catchments and flow-on effects to the Great Barrier Reef are recognised throughout the statement. Chapter 1 contains an overview of the state of marine and coastal aquatic ecosystems and the pressures on them. Chapter 4 focuses on the role of wetlands, in terms of water quality, and the other ecosystem services they provide. A summary of the potential use and effectiveness of treatments systems is also provided.

Additional Information

Catchment stories info

Wetland extents info metadata

Based on wetland mapping version 4.0

Great Barrier Reef contributing catchments wetland area by system 2013
System Area (km²) % wetlands area % total area
Total 15,714.2 100.0% 3.6%
Artificial and highly modified 1,675.4 10.7% 0.4%
Estuarine 4,332.6 27.6% 1.0%
Lacustrine 224.2 1.4% 0.1%
Palustrine 2,816.2 17.9% 0.6%
Riverine 6,665.8 42.4% 1.5%

There are approximately 24,823 lacustrine/palustrine wetlands in this region.

Great Barrier Reef contributing catchments wetland area by habitat 2013
Habitat Area (km²) % wetlands area % total area
Total 15,714.2 100.0% 3.6%
Estuarine - mangroves and related tree communities 2,461.8 15.7% 0.6%
Estuarine - salt flats and saltmarshes 1,870.8 11.9% 0.4%
Coastal and sub-coastal saline swamp 116.6 0.7% 0.0%
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain tree swamp—Melaleuca spp. and Eucalypus spp. 325.8 2.1% 0.1%
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain wet heath swamp 170.9 1.1% 0.0%
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain grass sedge and herb swamp 193.7 1.2% 0.0%
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain spring swamp 0.2 0.0% 0.0%
Coastal and sub-coastal floodplain tree swamp—Melaleuca spp. and Eucalypus spp. 610.3 3.9% 0.1%
Coastal and sub-coastal floodplain wet heath swamp 36.7 0.2% 0.0%
Coastal and sub-coastal floodplain grass, sedge, herb swamp 878.8 5.6% 0.2%
Coastal and sub-coastal tree swamp—Palm 35.2 0.2% 0.0%
Coastal and sub-coastal floodplain lake 18.9 0.1% 0.0%
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain rock lake 1.6 0.0% 0.0%
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain sand lake 0.1 0.0% 0.0%
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain sand lake—Window 56.9 0.4% 0.0%
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain soil lake 64.1 0.4% 0.0%
Arid and semi-arid saline swamp 0.2 0.0% 0.0%
Arid and semi-arid tree swamp (floodplain) 211.3 1.3% 0.0%
Arid and semi-arid grass, sedge and herb swamp (floodplain) 51.1 0.3% 0.0%
Arid and semi-arid tree swamp (non-floodplain) 179.1 1.1% 0.0%
Arid and semi-arid grass, sedge and herb swamp (non-floodplain) 5.9 0.0% 0.0%
Arid and semi-arid non-floodplain spring swamp 0.3 0.0% 0.0%
Arid and semi-arid floodplain lake 1.6 0.0% 0.0%
Arid and semi-arid non-floodplain lake 81.0 0.5% 0.0%
Artificial and highly modified wetlands (dams, ring tanks, irrigation channels) 1,626.2 10.3% 0.4%
(modified natural) Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain tree swamp—Melaleuca spp. and Eucalypus spp. 0.3 0.0% 0.0%
(modified natural) Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain wet heath swamp 0.1 0.0% 0.0%
(modified natural) Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain grass sedge and herb swamp 3.9 0.0% 0.0%
(modified natural) Coastal and sub-coastal floodplain tree swamp—Melaleuca spp. and Eucalypus spp. 31.9 0.2% 0.0%
(modified natural) Coastal and sub-coastal floodplain grass, sedge, herb swamp 7.5 0.0% 0.0%
(modified natural) Coastal and sub-coastal tree swamp—Palm 3.6 0.0% 0.0%
(modified natural) Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain soil lake 2.0 0.0% 0.0%
Riverine 6,665.8 42.4% 1.5%

Disclaimer

Areas do not include marine or estuarine waters but do include estuarine wetland vegetation
(e.g. mangroves and tidal flats).

Areas are approximate and calculated using the GDA94 / Australian Albers projection.

Areas may change over time as mapping approaches improve.

Totals may not match the sum of individually displayed figures due to the rounding of displayed figures.

Wetland extent changes

Great Barrier Reef contributing catchments wetland extent change by system
System 2013 area
(km²)
2009 area
(km²)
2005 area
(km²)
2001 area
(km²)
2013/pre-clear
percentage
Total 15,714.2 15,686.2 15,654.1 15,584.6 86.9%
Artificial and highly modified 1,675.4 1,638.5 1,596.5 1,489.5 n/a
Estuarine 4,332.6 4,335.6 4,336.2 4,338.6 92.5%
Lacustrine 224.2 223.9 223.2 221.7 96.9%
Palustrine 2,816.2 2,816.8 2,819.7 2,827.0 75.9%
Riverine 6,665.8 6,671.4 6,678.6 6,707.7 81.7%
Great Barrier Reef contributing catchments wetland extent change by habitat
Habitat 2013 area
(km²)
2009 area
(km²)
2005 area
(km²)
2001 area
(km²)
Total 15,714.2 15,686.2 15,654.1 15,584.6
Estuarine - mangroves and related tree communities 2,461.8 2,462.1 2,462.2 2,462.3
Estuarine - salt flats and saltmarshes 1,870.8 1,873.5 1,874.0 1,876.3
Coastal and sub-coastal saline swamp 116.6 116.7 116.7 116.8
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain tree swamp—Melaleuca spp. and Eucalypus spp. 325.8 326.3 327.2 329.7
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain wet heath swamp 170.9 171.0 171.0 171.1
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain grass sedge and herb swamp 193.7 194.6 194.7 195.0
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain spring swamp 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
Coastal and sub-coastal floodplain tree swamp—Melaleuca spp. and Eucalypus spp. 610.3 609.4 610.7 612.0
Coastal and sub-coastal floodplain wet heath swamp 36.7 36.8 36.9 37.2
Coastal and sub-coastal floodplain grass, sedge, herb swamp 878.8 878.7 878.8 880.2
Coastal and sub-coastal tree swamp—Palm 35.2 35.3 35.3 35.3
Coastal and sub-coastal floodplain lake 18.9 18.9 18.9 18.3
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain rock lake 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.6
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain sand lake 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain sand lake—Window 56.9 56.9 56.9 56.9
Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain soil lake 64.1 63.9 63.2 62.3
Arid and semi-arid saline swamp 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
Arid and semi-arid tree swamp (floodplain) 211.3 211.3 211.3 212.0
Arid and semi-arid grass, sedge and herb swamp (floodplain) 51.1 51.2 51.5 51.7
Arid and semi-arid tree swamp (non-floodplain) 179.1 179.1 179.1 179.4
Arid and semi-arid grass, sedge and herb swamp (non-floodplain) 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9
Arid and semi-arid non-floodplain spring swamp 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
Arid and semi-arid floodplain lake 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.6
Arid and semi-arid non-floodplain lake 81.0 81.0 81.0 81.0
Artificial and highly modified wetlands (dams, ring tanks, irrigation channels) 1,626.2 1,589.2 1,547.3 1,441.5
(modified natural) Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain tree swamp—Melaleuca spp. and Eucalypus spp. 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3
(modified natural) Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain wet heath swamp 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1
(modified natural) Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain grass sedge and herb swamp 3.9 3.9 3.9 3.9
(modified natural) Coastal and sub-coastal floodplain tree swamp—Melaleuca spp. and Eucalypus spp. 31.9 31.9 31.9 31.9
(modified natural) Coastal and sub-coastal floodplain grass, sedge, herb swamp 7.5 7.5 7.5 7.0
(modified natural) Coastal and sub-coastal tree swamp—Palm 3.6 3.6 3.6 3.6
(modified natural) Coastal and sub-coastal non-floodplain soil lake 2.0 2.0 2.0 1.4
Riverine 6,665.8 6,671.4 6,678.6 6,707.7

Disclaimer

Areas do not include marine or estuarine waters but do include estuarine wetland vegetation
(e.g. mangroves and tidal flats).

Areas are approximate and calculated using the GDA94 / Australian Albers projection.

Areas may change over time as mapping approaches improve.

Totals may not match the sum of individually displayed figures due to the rounding of displayed figures.

Wildlife

Kingdom
Class
Native Introduced Wetland
indicator
species
Rare or
threatened
species
All
TOTAL 12952 1172 974 914 14142
Animals 1818 49 364 208 1867
Mammals 211 19 8 42 230
Birds 645 12 95 59 657
Reptiles 389 3 38 48 392
Amphibians 124 1 42 39 125
Lobe-finned fishes 1 0 1 1 1
Ray-finned fishes 123 14 135 6 137
Cartilaginous fishes