Reef Catchments

Rescuing the Reef

The Australian Government Reef Programme (formerly Reef Rescue) is responsible for fast-tracking water quality benefits associated with improved agricultural practices, leading to improvements in the health of the Great Barrier Reef. In Mackay and the Whitsundays, the programme uptake has exceeded expectations. High levels of involvement have seen a total of 946 landholders involved in 1,286 projects to adopt sustainable agricultural management practices. This includes 718 cane farmers, 204 graziers and 20 horticulturalists.

Key outcomes include:

  • 1286 projects developed in the Mackay and Whitsunday region to adopt improved agricultural practices and fast-track water quality benefits
  • 942 Mackay and Whitsunday landholders involved, including 718 cane farmers, 204 graziers and 20 horticulturalists
  • 121 industry projects undertaken in partnership with the local community and with industry contribution
  • Establishment of working groups (Grazing and Cane Regional Working Groups) that have formed the foundation for key partnerships with industry, organisations and stakeholders to facilitate program delivery
  • Modelling developed to quantify water quality improvements
  • Government investment of almost $33M supported by land manger investment of just over $54M

Benchmark on-ground improvements as a result of projects implemented include:

  • Reduction of 4480 tonnes per annum in sediment loss from farms
  • Reduction of over 600 tonnes per annum of nitrogen loss from farms
  • Reduction of just over 1000 kilograms per annum of herbicide loss from farms


  • Reef Catchments Limited
  • Australian Government
  • Mackay and Whitsunday landholders
  • Agribusinesses
    • Rural and Industry Peak Bodies

Image: In the Mackay and Whitsundays, 946 landholders have been involved in 1,286 projects to adopt improved and more sustainable agricultural management practices.

Coasts and Communities

The Coasts and Communities program maintains and improves coastal ecosystems in the Mackay region. It is a joint initiative of Mackay Regional Council and Reef Catchments, through funding from the Australian Government and Mackay Regional Council’s Natural Environment Levy. In 2013 activities have occurred on 15 beaches in the area.

Mackay Coasts and Communities Key Achievements 2013

  • 1,200 hectares of coastal ecosystems under local coastal management plans and being managed for improved natural environment outcomes
  • 168 hectares of coastal environments cleared of invasive weeds to promote native rehabilitation
  • Five tonnes of rubbish and marine debris removed from beaches and coastal reserves
  • 5,312 native seedlings planted to improve the condition of the coastal environment, replace removed weed species, stabilised dune systems and provided habitat for native animals such as marine turtles and shorebirds
  • 19 Coastcare activities held across seven beaches have provided opportunities for local residents to care for the coast
  • 106 volunteers attended Coastcare activities and contributed more than 560 hours to improve the condition of their coast
  • 144 beach access tracks maintained to protect coastal vegetation
  • 12 organisations working together to deliver integrated coastal management in the Mackay region
  • 770 metres of coastal fencing installed to protect dune rehabilitation areas and define pedestrian access tracks to protect nationally threatened coastal vegetation
  • Six Mackay Regional Council and Reef Catchments staff working in coastal management in planning, compliance, community engagement, monitoring and managing external contactors on our coast
  • Two new coastal management plans developed for local beaches to protect and restore the natural environment values of the coast

Image: In 2013, 106 volunteers attended Mackay Coastcare activities, contributing more than 560 hours to improve the condition of their coast and beaches in the Mackay region