Empowering stakeholders to restore and care for reefs

Adam Smith, Ryan Donnelly

People care deeply about the health, impacts and future of the Great Barrier Reef. Many are very concerned about the impacts of global climate change and other stressors that have destroyed 50% of the Great Barrier Reef over the past 30 years. So what can or should they do about it? Until recently the recommended approach was citizen science. That is to collect information on the reef and report it to scientists and managers. A few years ago we collectively realised that we were monitoring the decline of the GBR and we needed a new approach, including new tools, interventions and positive actions such as reef restoration. It worked well overseas so it should work in our waters.

Adam Smith will discuss his experience within an IDEA framework and the tourism industry, conservation groups, indigenous stakeholders, scientists and artists to pilot several reef restoration projects between Port Douglas and the Whitsundays. The lessons learned include collaboration, competition, risk, methodology, training, funding, time and scaling.

As CEO of the Reef Restoration Foundation which has expanded from Fitzroy Island to several reef sites, Ryan Donnelly will share his experiences of normalising the notion that collectively we can act to increase the resilience of our patch while global leaders work on decarbonising economies. It can be achieved by galvanising community participation, forming business partnerships and attracting corporate sponsorship.