Beach clean-ups, rehabilitating waterways, new waste management initiatives — just some of the actions by three far north Queensland councils over the last five years to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Cook, Cairns and Cassowary Coast Councils — part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian Councils Program — have been praised for their local environmental work.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Tourism and Stewardship Director Karen Vohland said all local actions, big or small, were important to the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

“A healthy and productive Great Barrier Reef is important to the lifestyles and livelihoods of people in the Reef coastal catchment,” she said.

“As local authorities these councils are well-placed to make real change —they’ve demonstrated an ongoing commitment to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Reef.

“Councils collectively have hundreds of programs that help reduce the impact of coastal communities on the Reef, for example catchment and water quality management, waste management and land management.”

The Reef Guardian Councils program has been running since 2007, encouraging local councils and recognising the positive actions they are taking to improve the health of the Reef.

Cook Shire Council has been actively involved in the program collaborating with partners to focus on the key issues of waste management, weeds reduction in local water ways and marine debris.

“I’m very proud of our councils and our communities for the great work we’re achieving to help the Reef,” Cook Shire Council Deputy Mayor Penny Johnson said.

“We look forward to working with GBRMPA and building on these partnerships in the years ahead.”

Fifteen councils from Bundaberg to Cooktown are recognised as Reef Guardians covering an area of more than 300,000 square kilometres and 900,000 residents.

Other active Reef Guardian Councils with more than five years of service improving the health of the Great Barrier Reef and its catchment include:

  • Townsville City Council
  • Hinchinbrook Shire Council
  • Burdekin Shire Council
  • Mackay Regional Council
  • Isaac Regional Council
  • Livingstone Shire Council

Reef Guardian Councils form part of the larger Reef Guardian Program involving commercial fishers, over 300 schools and 25 farmers and graziers taking part in on-ground environmental projects that benefit the Reef.


conference_logoDeveloping Northern Australia Conference 2015 is a national conference addressing the economic and social outcomes for Northern Australia. Developing Northern Australia Conference 2015 will be held at Rydges Southbank Townsville on the 20 – 22 July 2015.