The Great Barrier Reef is not just a national heritage; it is a world heritage. It is the largest collection of coral reefs in the world and home to thousands of organisms, some of which can only be found in that particular place. Today, climate change, overfishing, and pollution are causing irreparable damages to the world oceans and affecting the living organisms in these habitats. The Great Barrier Reef is not free from the effects of these challenges as they also have serious adverse effects on it and the organisms within it. Being a biodiversity hotspot with hundreds of threatened species living within it; efforts are being made to preserve sizable parts of the reefs in their pristine state. The government have embarked on a series of projects to ensure these reefs are protected. These includes:
- Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan: This plan is the Major framework put in place by the government to protect the Reef. It was initiated in 2015 and expected to end in 2050. The focus of this plan is the conservation of the parts of the habitats that are inscribed by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee as being in danger on the sites. The plan was made based on recommendations of the UNESCO committee and consultation with key organisations, community groups, and the public. The plan is implemented by the Australia and Queensland governments, and it is reviewed every five years. The success of this plan is already evident in the unanimous decision of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee that the Great Barrier Reef cannot have an in-danger status.
- Reef Trust: Another key project that is designed to protect the reefs is the Reef Trust. This is a combination of both government and private funds which is invested in improving water quality and coastal habitat in the Great Barrier reef and nearby catchments. Over a billion dollars have been committed to addressing the crucial threats to the Reef and boost its protection.
- Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program: As parts of the reef protection efforts, this program involves a partnership between government, industry, scientific institutions, non-governmental organisation, and private corporations all working to develop solutions that will position the Great Barrier Reef as a pioneer in the global efforts of restoring reefs to their pristine state and helping them adapt climate change. The program was launched after a feasibility study where over 160 ideas for protecting the Reef against climate change were considered. In the end, 43 were adopted as suitable for further research to determine their scalability, after which they will be deployed.
- Great Barrier Reef Streambank and Gully Joint Program: This program is the joint effort of the Australian and Queensland governments and seeks to remediate streambank and gully erosions to reduce the volume of sediment that enters the Reef. Sediment Working Group is in charge of the technical, strategic, and policy input needed to combat erosion and restore the streambank. This program is an essential one considering the effects of sediment runoff on the Great Barrier Reef.