Healthier reef through alliance

Healthier reef through alliance

Healthier reef through alliance

By Emily Maher from Qld Farmers Federation

Collaboration makes sense for ease of contract management, decreased delivery duplication and consistency of approach. The Reef Alliance has shown that it can also generate significant on-ground results and return on investment.

The Reef Alliance is a partnership that works with land managers to protect and maintain the health/function of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Since 2008, agricultural industry groups, regional natural resource management organisations and rural land managers with support via the conservation sector have been delivering the Reef Programs (Reef Rescue, Reef Programme and now Reef Trust). These innovative programs integrate incentives, agricultural extension, research and adaptive landscape planning to improve the adoption of agricultural practices that deliver water quality, rural production and rural economic business benefits in the GBR lagoon catchments.

From 2008-2013 Regional NRM Organisations and Industry Groups were individually contracted by the Australian Government to deliver Reef Rescue and then the Reef Programme. Whilst groups were individually contracted, the Reef Alliance partnership provided opportunities for knowledge sharing, communicating Reef-wide impacts and consistent messaging.

The results from the 2015 GBR Report Card indicate that Reef Program activities (2009-2015) have resulted in a reduction of 12.3% of sediment and 33.7% of pesticide loads. These results report on the Reef Rescue and Reef Programme only. Through the Reef Program (2013-16) 1,954 farmers have improved their land management practices over 1,330,872 ha, supported by Regional NRM Organisations and Industry Groups. On average, farmers contributed $1.55 for every $1 of support they received. The changes being made at farm level are having an impact and the Reef Trust III aims to continue to improve its approach and results.

In 2015 the NRM partners proposed a collaborative approach to the deliver the Reef Trust III initiative. Industry were very supportive of this approach and 12 Reef Alliance partners submitted collaborative bid. The Reef Alliance: Growing a Great Barrier Reef Program (GGBR) commenced in May 2016 and is an integrated approach to advance farmer practices beyond industry best management practice (BMP). It will fast track the implementation of innovative practices. It builds on the last eight years of collaborative partnership to implement an integrated program that encourages consistent approaches, creates efficiencies and avoids duplication.

The GGBR Program will invest $45.6M to support 1,196 farmers and graziers improve their practices over 1,841,480ha across 33 GBR catchments by June 30, 2019.

The program targets five agriculture commodities: sugarcane, grazing, horticulture, broad acre cropping and dairy. Key outcomes and efficiencies of the GGBR Program are the development of a shared database, one consistent monitoring and evaluation framework, one reporting mechanism and reef-wide communication. Through these efficiencies there is more funding available on the ground. Leadership at every level is required to improve alignment and integration of Reef water quality programs, investment, delivery systems and communications to ensure all key stakeholders are combining their efforts.

Reef Programme 2013/16 Outputs

Commodity # farmers/ graziers adopting improved practices # ha under improved management Capacity building (training, extension etc) $ spent on grants $ farmer/ grazier in-kind contribution Landholder contribution/ $1 AG funding
Sugarcane                             1,005                    257,639                           4,425              12,887,398              20,194,630 1.57
Grazing                                620                    961,276                           1,700                8,095,158              10,506,499 1.30
Dairy                                   17                         4,570                                 60                    275,287                    485,841 1.76
Bananas                                   78                         9,162                               323                1,330,211                1,809,754 1.36
Other Horticulture                                139                      18,199                               341                1,715,674                3,747,761 2.18
Broad Acre Cropping                                   95                      80,026                               171                    918,726                2,410,214 2.62
TOTAL                             1,954                1,330,872                           7,020              25,222,454              39,154,699 1.55

Reef Alliance partners include: AgForce, Australian Banana Growers’ Council, Burnett Mary Regional Group, CANEGROWERS, Cape York Natural Resource Management Ltd, Fitzroy Basin Association, Growcom, NQ Dry Tropics Ltd., Queensland Dairyfarmers’ Organisation, Queensland Farmers’ Federation, Reef Catchments (Mackay Whitsunday Isaac) Ltd, QLD NRM Regional Groups Collective, Terrain NRM and WWF- Australia.