A new report card, due for release in late 2015, will highlight the health of waterways in the Mackay-Whitsunday region – and in particular identify local impacts on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Developed by the Mackay-Whitsunday Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership (“The Partnership”), the report card will help the local community to understand more about the condition of the area’s freshwater rivers, wetlands, estuaries, coastal and marine environments.
The Partnership includes the catchments of the Don, O’Connell, Proserpine, Pioneer and Plane basins, the urban area of Mackay, the ports of Abbot Point, Mackay and Hay Point, marinas and other coastal areas. It brings together representatives from tourism, fisheries, agriculture, science, resources, industry, Natural Resource Management, conservation, Indigenous groups and all levels of government.
Report cards are a great way to demonstrate the health of a region’s waterways (including the GBR and associated catchments) based on some key indicators – and report progress towards goals and targets. They have been successfully used in South-East Queensland, Gladstone and Fitzroy to present complex scientific information in a clear way.
A multitude of factors can affect waterway health and these vary from region to region, therefore, the report card will be tailored to address the specific pressures facing the Mackay-Whitsunday area, and will be based on the best available science. It will feature a grading system, ranging from ‘very good’ to ‘very poor’ that will look at a range of indicators including water quality, and the health of seagrass meadows and coral reefs.
The Partnership has engaged the GBR Reef Plan Independent Scientific Panel to review the work to ensure the report card will be robust and accurate. Specific areas requiring remedial action will be identified, along with guidance on how these challenges should be addressed to deliver lasting improvements.
The Partnership is currently hard at work on a range of tasks, including developing a suitable report card format and determining the most effective scoring methodologies to use, that are consistent with other regions.