Understanding the link between People and the Reef

Healthy waterways are a key part of our lifestyles and livelihoods in Queensland. In the Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac region, we are lucky enough to have the Great Barrier Reef right on our doorstep, as well as many beautiful beaches, wetlands and rivers that support recreational activities and the economy.

The Social and Economic Long-Term Monitoring Program (SELTMP) was developed to help understand the relationship between people and the Great Barrier Reef by collecting data on how people and different industries perceive, value and interact with the Reef and associated waterways. By gathering this information, Reef managers and decision makers within the Reef catchments can improve their planning and management of the Reef’s future, and monitor how people’s relationships with local waterways change over time.

SELTMP has collected large-scale surveys of Great Barrier Reef communities in 2013, 2017 and 2021. The key objectives of SELTMP, updated in 2020, are to:

  • Monitor changes in community attitudes towards the Great Barrier Reef, its values and management, and perceived threats to those values
  • Predict people’s attitudes and behaviours in response to future management interventions, and changes in Reef health
  • Monitor changes in social and economic wellbeing of Reef-dependent communities and the benefits they derive from the Great Barrier Reef
  • Assess and monitor social and economic vulnerability, and adaptive capacity of the Great Barrier Reef community to changes in Reef condition and the wider system.

Latest survey results

The most recent SELTMP survey was undertaken in December 2021, with a total of 1,877 residents surveyed across the the five Regional Report Card areas, spanning the Great Barrier Reef catchments between Gladstone and Cooktown. It collected data about the uses, benefits and values of waterways, as well as perceived threats, stewardship actions and governance.

In the Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac region:

  • 83% of people said that waterways were an important part of why they choose to live in the region
  • 90% of people said visiting their local waterway was important to their quality of life and wellbeing
  • More than half of respondents said they went fishing in the previous 12 months.

Learn more about the survey results in the  interactive dashboard.

SELTMP is funded by the Partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and is being delivered in partnership with CSIRO, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and the Queensland Government’s Reef Water Quality Program.

This module of work was made possible with in-kind support and co-investment from the Office of the Great Barrier Reef and World Heritage, and the five Regional Report Card Partnerships in the Great Barrier Reef catchment region.