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The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Reef Guardian program recognises the good environmental work undertaken by communities and industries to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The program involves working closely with those who use and rely on the Reef, or its catchment, for recreation or business to help build a healthier and more resilient Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef catchment area lies adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and comprises approximately twenty-five per cent of the land area of Queensland.

Forty drainage basins comprise the catchment area, which drains directly into the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. This connection from the land to the Reef is recognised by Reef Guardian participants, and their actions help to reduce their impacts on the catchment. 

The program demonstrates a hands-on, community-based approach can make a real difference to the health and resilience of the Reef. Reef Guardians are taking voluntary actions beyond what is required by law and sharing information.  

These actions will help to improve the economic sustainability of industries operating in the Great Barrier Reef Region and ensure the environmental sustainability of the Marine Park.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's Reef Guardian stewardship program began in 2003, working with schools to encourage the community to take action for a healthier Reef.

Reef Guardian Schools

The Reef Guardian School program has been running since 2003; the program encourages teachers and students to take actions that help protect the Great Barrier Reef and its connected ecosystems.

2023 marks the 20-year anniversary of the school program; more than 350,000 students have attended Reef Guardian School since its inception.

The Reef Guardian Schools initiative currently has more than 270 schools, 7400 teachers and 120,000 students involved in building the Reef’s resilience.

Visit the Reef Guardian School portal to see their collective actions.

Reef Guardian School Tree Planting

Reef Guardian Councils

In 2007 the Reef Guardian initiative was expanded to include local government councils along the Great Barrier Reef coast through the Reef Guardian Council program.

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. 

The Reef Authority acknowledges that 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, supporting 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 protection and management of the Reef catchment region.

© Douglas Shire Council - From Flush to Farm

Reef Guardian Fishers

The Reef Guardian Fishers launched in 2011 to engage with industries connected to the Reef. Contact the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for more information on the program. 

Schooling fish on the Reef
Updated 20 Nov 2023
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