FAQs

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  1. What is a strategic assessment?
  2. What is the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment?
  3. Why is the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment being conducted?
  4. What will it mean for the future of the Great Barrier Reef and the adjacent coastal zone?
  5. What are the Terms of Reference?
  6. What is the scale of the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment?
  7. Who is leading the two components of the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment?
  8. What is the Great Barrier Reef coastal zone?
  9. What will the coastal zone strategic assessment involve?
  10. What is the Great Barrier Reef marine component?
  11. What will the marine component strategic assessment include?
  12. What are Matters of National Environmental Significance?
  13. Why is public consultation happening on the draft reports?
  14. How do I have my say on the draft report?
  15. How do I contact the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment project teams?
  16. What will happen after public consultation?
  17. How will the final Queensland Port Strategy impact the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment?

1. What is a strategic assessment?

Strategic assessments under section 146 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) are landscape scale assessments and unlike project-by-project assessments, which look at individual actions (such as construction and operation of a pipeline or wind farm), they can consider a much broader set of actions. For example, a large urban growth area that will be developed over many years, or a fire management policy across a broad landscape.

Advantages of doing a strategic assessment include:

  • clear ‘goal posts’ or requirements for protection of Matters of National Environmental Significance are set up-front, at the planning stage
  • greater certainty to local communities and developers over future development
  • reduced administrative burden for strategic assessment partners and government through:
    • a substantial reduction in the number of environmental assessments required for an area;
    • the avoidance of potentially duplicative and separate environmental assessments by different types of government (such as Australian, state, territory or local governments)
  • capacity to achieve better environmental outcomes and address cumulative impacts at the landscape level
  • coordinated establishment and management of offsets
  • flexible timeframes to better meet planning processes

Strategic Assessment under the EPBC Act - Brochure (PDF - 853.95 KB)

2. What is the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment?

The Australian Government and the Queensland Government have formally agreed to undertake a comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and adjacent coastal zone. The strategic assessment will be undertaken in accordance with section 146 of the EPBC Act.

At the heart of this assessment is an examination of how Matters of National Environmental Significance, and the values that underpin the Outstanding Universal Value of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, are protected for future generations.

The comprehensive strategic assessment is made up of two components:

3. Why is the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment being conducted?

The Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment is being conducted as part of the Australian and Queensland governments’ commitment to ensuring the Great Barrier Reef remains one of the best managed reefs in the world.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee made a decision in June 2011 that recommended the Australian Government undertake a comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment responds to this recommendation.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Government are working together to undertake a strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and adjacent coastal zone—the most comprehensive strategic assessment undertaken in Australia.

4. What will it mean for the future of the Great Barrier Reef and the adjacent coastal zone?

The comprehensive strategic assessment will help identify, plan for and manage existing and emerging risks to ensure ongoing protection and management of the unique environmental values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and adjacent coastal zone.

The strategic assessment responds to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s decision of July 2011 that the Australian Government undertakes a comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

As part of the comprehensive strategic assessment process, the Australian and Queensland governments will build upon their robust environmental and development management frameworks to protect the Great Barrier Reef’s unique environmental values. This will be achieved through a range of new measures designed to strengthen these frameworks and support identifying and managing Matters of National Environmental Significance, including the Outstanding Universal Value of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

5. What are the Terms of Reference?

Part 10 of the EPBC Act identifies the requirements of strategic assessments. In accordance with part 10, the Terms of Reference for the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment require the preparation of two reports by both the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Government – a program report and strategic assessment report.

Following public consultation on draft Terms of Reference conducted from February to April 2012, the Australian Government approved the terms of reference for the comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and adjacent coastal zone on 30 August 2012.

The approved Terms of Reference take into account the public comments received, the World Heritage Committee's decision of 6 July 2011, the report of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre - International Union for Conservation of Nature reactive monitoring mission, and consultations with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Government.

Terms of Reference:

6. What is the scale of the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment?

The scale of the comprehensive strategic assessment is vast, covering an area of 348 000 square kilometres. To put this into perspective, the Great Barrier Reef encompasses an area roughly the same size as countries such as Japan or Italy.

The comprehensive strategic assessment encompasses the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and two Ramsar wetlands that support 175 threatened species, 81 migratory species and seven threatened ecological communities.

7. Who is leading the two components of the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment?

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is leading the strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef marine component and is examining the arrangements in place to manage and protect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area.

The Queensland Government is leading the strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef coastal zone component and is examining the state’s coastal management, planning and development framework and how it provides environmental protection along the coastal zone adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef.

8. What is the Great Barrier Reef coastal zone?

The Great Barrier Reef Coastal Zone Strategic Assessment covers the coastal zone adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. This includes Queensland waters, islands and adjacent inland areas, 5 kilometres inland or 10 metres Australian Height Datum (AHD), whichever is further. It also includes areas of the Great Barrier Reef catchment to the extent that water quality management arrangements apply.

The coastal zone spans an area that is nearly 2,300 kilometres long and is part of the comprehensive strategic assessment.

9. What will the coastal zone strategic assessment involve?

In accordance with part 10 of the EPBC Act, the Terms of Reference for the Great Barrier Reef Coastal Zone Strategic Assessment require the preparation of two reports:

  • a program report, describing Queensland’s coastal management, planning and development framework to be assessed (Program)
  • a strategic assessment report, which assesses the Queensland Program and potential impacts on Matters of National Environmental Significance, including Outstanding Universal Value.

10. What is the Great Barrier Reef marine component?

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is leading the marine component of the strategic assessment. This work has examined whether current arrangements are effective in managing and protecting the Great Barrier Reef Region which extends from the tip of Cape York in the north to just past Lady Elliott Island in the south. This has entailed identifying the Region’s natural and heritage values, the threats to those values and how those threats can best be managed.

11. What will the marine component strategic assessment include?

The marine component assesses the effectiveness of current management arrangements aimed at protecting the Great Barrier Reef Region’s natural and heritage values. It examines the various drivers behind environmental changes, impacts on values recognised as Matters of National Environmental Significance, and the current condition and trend of those values.

It also includes a close look at the effectiveness of various tools used by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, as well as partnerships with other Australian and Queensland government agencies, and other stakeholders. The reports contain recommendations on how the Authority can improve its management of Australia’s national environmental assets within the Great Barrier Reef Region.

12. What are Matters of National Environmental Significance?

Matters of National Environmental Significance are environmental assets recognised as worthy of protection under Australia’s environmental law and include features such as world heritage properties, listed migratory species, listed threatened species and habitats, as well as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

13. Why is public consultation happening on the draft reports?

The Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment public consultation will help inform the preparation of final strategic assessment reports for consideration by the Australian Minister for the Environment, and in 2015, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.

Public consultation on the draft reports for the comprehensive strategic assessment is a statutory process under the EPBC Act.

View the draft strategic assessment and program reports.

14. How do I have my say on the draft report?

You can complete an online survey or make a written submission.

Written submission can be made via:

Email: feedback@reefhaveyoursay.com.au
Post: Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment
Public Consultation Manager
GPO Box 668
Brisbane QLD 4001

A written submission form is available and can be submitted by email or post.

Consultation closes on 31 January 2014.

15. How do I contact the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment project teams?

Phone 1300 854 427 (within Australia during business hours)

Community information sessions are also being conducted throughout the 13-week consultation period at locations along the Great Barrier Reef coast.

For more information on venues, dates and how to register your attendance, visit www.reefhaveyoursay.com.au. Community information sessions will provide attendees the opportunity to speak to a project team member about the strategic assessment and learn more about how to make a submission on the draft reports.

16. What will happen after public consultation?

Feedback and comments received during consultation will inform the preparation of the final reports for the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment.

The final program and strategic assessment reports, as well as a report on the consultation, will be provided to the Australian Minister for the Environment for review and consideration.

17. How will the final Queensland Port Strategy impact the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment?

The release of the draft Queensland Ports Strategy demonstrates the Queensland Government’s commitment to improving the management of impacts on the reef.

The draft strategy proposes the prohibition of capital dredging for the development of deep water port facilities outside the long established major bulk ports for the next 10 years. It also proposes that master planning becomes a statutory obligation for long established major ports, and that such master planning includes assessment of marine and cumulative impacts, and an environmental management framework.

The draft Queensland Ports Strategy, upon being finalised after public consultation, will support the key measures and forward commitments of the Queensland Government under the Great Barrier Reef Strategic Assessment.

Further information

Email: feedback@reefhaveyoursay.com.au
Phone: 1300 854 427