An area of land where surface water runs into smaller channels, creeks or rivers and discharges into a common point and may include many sub-basins or sub-catchments. Also known as river basin or catchment.

Best management practice

Best management practices articulate a reasonable best practice level which can be expected to result in a moderate-low risk to water quality.


The variability among living organisms from all sources. It includes diversity within and between species, and diversity of ecosystems.


The total quantity or weight of organisms over a given area or volume.

Chlorophyll-a (as an indicator)

A measure of overall phytoplankton biomass. It is widely considered a useful proxy to measure nutrient availability and the productivity of a system.

Cumulative Impact

The impact on the environment resulting from the effects of one or more impacts, and the interactions between those impacts, added to other past, present and reasonably foreseeable future pressures.


Dissolved inorganic nitrogen


An overarching cause of change in the environment (Australia State of the Environment Report 2011).


A dynamic complex of plant, animal and microorganism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit (EPBC Act).

Ecosystem Health

A concept that integrates environmental state and conditions with the impacts of anthropogenic activities to provide information for the sustainable use and management of natural resources.


A Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) program to collate data, and new and integrated modelling to produce powerful visualisation, communication and reporting tools for the Great Barrier Reef.


The aquatic environment at the interface between freshwater and marine ecosystems.

Fish (as an index)

The fish community index, measured by two indicators (the number of indigenous and non-indigenous fish, respectively), is evaluated and included in the ecosystem health assessment (coasters) for basins. Inclusion in the Report Card will contribute to an understanding of the local fish communities.

Fish Barriers (as an indicator)

Fish barriers relate to any man-made barriers which prevent or delay connectivity between key habitats which has the potential to impact migratory fish populations, decrease the diversity of freshwater fish communities and reduce the condition of aquatic ecosystems (Moore, 2016).

Flow (as an indicator)

Flow relates to the degree that the natural river flows have been modified in the Region’s waterways. This is an important indicator due to its relevance to ecosystem and waterway health.


Filterable reactive phosphorus


Great Barrier Reef

GBR Report Card

Great Barrier Reef Report Card developed under the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan (2018).


Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority


Guideline value—Limits that are defined by experts in their respective fields used to gauge the condition of an indicator/site. If grades/scores do not meet guideline values, this signifies that changes impacting ecosystem health have occurred at a level beyond naturally occurring processes.

Impoundment Length

An indicator used in the ‘in-stream habitat modification’ indicator for freshwater basins in the region. This index reports on the proportion (%) of the linear length of the main river channel inundated at the Full Supply Level of artificial in-stream structures such as dams and weirs.


Is generated from indicator categories (e.g. water quality is an inshore marine zone index made up of nutrients, water clarity, chlorophyll-a and pesticides indicator categories).


A measure of one component of an environmental dataset (e.g. particulate nitrogen).

Indicator Category

Generated by rolling up one or more related indicators (e.g. the nutrients  indicator category is made up of particulate nitrogen and particulate phosphorus).

Inshore (as a reporting zone)

Inshore is a reporting zone in the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Report Card that includes enclosed coastal, open coastal and mid-shelf waters.

In-stream Habitat Modification (as an indicator)

This Basin indicator category is made up of two indicators; fish barriers and impoundment length (see relevant glossary entries).


Independent Science Panel (ISP) established under the Reef  2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan, who have independently reviewed the methodologies involved in the report card assessments.


Local Government Area


The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) GBR Long-term Monitoring Program

Macroalgae (cover)

An indicator used in part to assess coral health. Macroalgae is a collective term used for seaweed and other benthic (attached to the bottom) marine algae that are generally visible to the naked eye. Increased macroalgae on a coral reef is often undesirable, indicating reef degradation (Diaz-Pulido and McCook, 2008 ).


A measured value that contributes to an indicator score for indicators that are comprised of multiple measures (e.g. flow, estuary fish barriers).


Marine Monitoring Program – Great Barrier Reef monitoring program, led by GBRMPA. This provides water quality, coral and seagrass data for the Central and Whitsunday reporting zones in the Report Card.


The mode of action (MoA) is used to classify pesticides according to how they exert their effect on the target organism. The mode of action will be defined by its biochemical effects.


Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac – the Report Card reporting region


Oxidised nitrogen (nitrate + nitrite)


Natural Resource Management.

Offshore Zone

Offshore is a reporting zone in the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Report Card that includes mid-shelf and offshore water bodies.

Offshore (water body)

Offshore water bodies begin 60 km from the enclosed coastal boundary and extend to 280 km in the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Region (GBRMPA, 2010).

Overall Score

The overall scores for each reporting zone used in the Report Card are generated by an aggregation of indices (refer to specific glossary entry).


Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program

Palustrine Wetlands

Primarily vegetated non-channel environments of less than eight hectares. Examples of palustrine wetlands include billabongs, swamps, bogs, springs, etc.

Pesticides (as an indicator)

Incorporating up to 22 herbicides and insecticides with different modes of action. A list of the relevant chemical components is provided in the Methods Report.

Pesticide Risk Metric

Refers to the methodology for estimation of ecological risk associated with pesticide pollution.


The physical-chemical indicator category that includes the indicators dissolved oxygen (DO) and turbidity.

PSII herbicides

Photosystem II inhibiting herbicides (ametryn, atrazine, diuron, hexazinone, tebuthiuron, bromacil, fluometuron, metribuzin, prometryn, propazine, simazine, terbuthylazine, terbutryn)


Pre-clearing vegetation is defined as the vegetation or regional ecosystem present before clearing. This generally equates to terms such as ‘pre-1750’ or ‘pre-European’ used elsewhere (Neldner et al., 2019).


Particulate nitrogen


Particulate phosphorus


Photosystem II herbicide equivalent concentrations, derived using relative potency factors for each individual PSII herbicide with respect to a reference PSII herbicide, Diuron.

Riparian Extent (as an indicator)

An indicator used in the assessments of both basin and estuarine zones in the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Report Cards. This indicator uses mapping resources to determine the extent of the vegetated interface between land and waterways in the region.

Standardised condition score

The transformation of indicator scores into the MWI Report Card scoring range of 0 to 100.


Defined as responsible and sustainable use and protection of our water resources, waterways and catchments to enhance the social, cultural, environmental and economic values of the Region.


Commercial activities that provide transport, accommodation or services to people who are visiting the Region principally for enjoyment.


Total suspended solids


Technical Working Group.


Those aspects or attributes of an environment that make it of significance.


All freshwater, estuarine and marine bodies of water, including reefs, and storm drains, channels and other human-made structures in the MWI Region.

Water quality guideline

For purposes of waterway assessment, the term water quality guideline refers to values for condition assessment of water quality drawn from a range sources including water quality objectives scheduled under the Environmental Protection (Water) Policy 2009, and water quality guideline values obtained from the Queensland Water Quality Guidelines (DEHP, 2009), the GBRMPA Guidelines (GBRMPA, 2010) and the ANZG (2018).

Water quality objective (WQO)

Water quality objective refers to values for condition assessment of water quality scheduled under the Environmental Protection (Water) Policy 2009.


Water Quality Improvement Plans. These documents provide an ecosystem-based approach to integrated water cycle management supported by science. The Mackay-Whitsunday WQIP 2014-2021 can be accessed here.