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The Reef Guardian Councils program is a partnership between local government and the Reef Authority which recognises that local and regional approaches are central to protecting and managing the Reef and the communities it supports.

The program recognises that local governments are key management partners as many of the threats to the Reef and heritage values arise outside of the Marine Park boundaries and the Reef Authority’s jurisdiction.

Councils are directly involved in a myriad of both statutory and non-statutory activities that minimise impacts, improve values and support the resilience of the Reef, contributing to the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan and the objectives of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975

The Reef Guardian Council program recognises this and celebrates and supports the important role of local government in the protection and management of the Reef catchment region.

There are 19 councils between Bundaberg and Cooktown in the Reef Guardian Councils program, undertaking various actions to help address the key threats to the Reef.

This covers an area of more than 300,000 square kilometres and includes approximately one million p

Climate action for communities

Learn more about how local councils are taking climate action for their communities and the Great Barrier Reef. 

Climate change initiatives snapshot

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has composed a highlight of the actions, both big and small, the 19 Reef Guardian Councils are taking to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Click on the image to download the Reef Guardian Councils climate change initiatives snapshot.

Reef Guardian Councils climate change initiatives snapshot

Reef Guardian Councils Map

Many local residents assume their council only deals with rates, roads and rubbish, but Reef Guardian Councils are doing much more than this in an effort to protect the Great Barrier Reef and ensure its resilience.


  • Councils undertake a wide range of environmental initiatives that help address the key threats to the Reef. This might include acting to:
  • Limit the impacts of climate change – contributing to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, building capacity to adapt to climate change, and providing community education
  • Reduce impacts from land-based activities – through waste management, erosion control, planning and development assessment, stormwater and wastewater management, reducing light pollution near sensitive ecosystems, and implementing programs to reduce marine debris entering the Reef
  • Protect, rehabilitate and restore habitats – vegetation and pest management, restoring and rehabilitating coastal habitats, identifying, prioritising, removing or remediating artificial barriers to water flow and increasing connectivity through fish passages in the catchment and estuarine areas
  • Reduce impacts from water-based activities – encouraging and supporting stewardship actions and behaviours to reduce the impact of water-based activities, including recreational fishing, raising awareness of the biodiversity and heritage values of the Reef
  • Conserve historic and cultural heritage – protecting and conserving sites with historic and/or cultural heritage values, raising awareness of historic and/or cultural heritage values
  • Support voluntary stewardship – providing education, capacity building and developing partnerships to share knowledge and promote stewardship behaviours.

Reef Guardian Councils have an important role in planning for sustainable population growth, approving environmentally sound developments, and working to address climate change.

Whether Reef Guardian Councils and their communities are large or small, they are all making continuous improvements to help the Great Barrier Reef.

Reef Guardian Council News

Updated 21 Dec 2023
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