The Australian and Queensland governments are working together to undertake a comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the adjacent coastal zone under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The strategic assessment will ensure that we continue to achieve best practice in managing a balance between growth and environment protection.
In accordance with the EPBC Act, the assessment will address impacts on Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES), including world heritage properties, nationally threatened species and ecological communities.
The comprehensive strategic assessment will, in part, respond to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s decision of July 2012 that the Australian Government undertake a comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
There are two key components of the strategic assessment – a marine component and a coastal zone component. The marine component, led by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), will look at the arrangements in place to manage and protect the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area. The coastal zone component, led by the Queensland Government, will assess how Queensland’s coastal management, planning and development framework manages environmental protection within the Great Barrier Reef region.
The coastal zone strategic assessment requires the preparation of two reports:
- A program report which describes in detail the Queensland management, planning and development framework (the Program) being assessed
- A strategic assessment report which assesses the potential impacts on MNES from the implementation of the Program.
The Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities it expected to release the draft program and strategic assessment reports for public consultation in early 2013. It is also expected that the draft program and strategic assessment reports will be available for consideration by the Australian Government by the end of 2012.