The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's (GBRMPA) 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 drain 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 on 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.
The Reef Guardians Grants Program encourages Reef Guardians, Local Marine Advisory Committees, and the scientific and wider community to collaborate on locally relevant projects that will positively influence the values of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Reef Guardian Schools initiative currently has more than 270 schools, 7400 teachers and 120,000 students involved in building the Reef’s resilience.
In 2007 the initiative was expanded to include local government councils along the Great Barrier Reef coast through the Reef Guardian Councils program.