Rangers and marine managers celebrate 40 years protecting the Great Barrier Reef

Commonwealth of Australia (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority)

Saving vulnerable turtles and seabirds, restoring tourism infrastructure after cyclones, monitoring crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and ensuring zoning rules are followed are just a few of the achievements of a unique Great Barrier Reef program which celebrated its 40th anniversary in June.

Since 1979, rangers and marine managers from the Australian and Queensland governments have joined forces to protect the iconic and vast Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. A critical part of this historic agreement was the creation of a single field management program, funded by both the Commonwealth and Queensland governments. The Great Barrier Reef Intergovernmental Agreement, which began as the Emerald Agreement in 1979, provides a framework for the Australian and Queensland governments to work together to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Four decades later, the two levels of government continue to work closely in this unique partnership to protect our reefs and islands – home to iconic plants, animals, habitats and rich cultural heritage.

The Reef Joint Field Management Program is unique, with marine park rangers and staff from both the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service working together to deliver practical on-ground activities that mitigate threats and build resilience. The program is also supported by a growing network of partnerships with other government agencies, research institutions, industry, community groups, and Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers.

With 40 years of experience, productive partnerships and sustainable resourcing, the anniversary is an acknowledgment of all who have been part of the Great Barrier Reef Joint Field Management Program. The program is well-placed to continue to deliver this crucial and far-reaching work over the coming years to protect the iconic Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, for this generation and generations to come.

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