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Cape York regional summary

The Cape York region includes 43,000km² of catchments that drain eastwards into the Great Barrier Reef. The region contains some exceptional conservation assets including relatively intact and extensive coastal dune fields, wetlands, rainforest, heathlands and river systems that support high levels of biodiversity found nowhere else in Australia. A sizeable portion of land in Cape York is under Aboriginal ownership or management. Traditional use of marine resources is relatively high, particularly in inshore areas adjacent to Indigenous communities. The main agricultural land use is grazing (57%).

This report card measures progress from the 2009 baseline towards Reef Water Quality Protection Plan (Reef Plan) goals and targets. It assesses the combined results of all Reef Plan actions up to June 2010. Report cards are produced as part of the Paddock to Reef program.


Key findings

  • The overall marine condition in 2009–2010 was moderate. Inshore water quality was moderate and seagrass was in good condition.
  • 23% of graziers and 27% of horticulture producers have adopted improved land management practices.
  • There has been no historical loss of wetlands and no change in extent over the 2005–2009 period.
  • The Cape York region lost the lowest proportion of riparian forest out of all the Great Barrier Reef regions with only 265ha (0.03%) of loss between the 2005 and 2009 period.
  • The greatest proportional catchment load reduction was the nitrogen and phosphorus load with an estimated 7t (2%) and 3t (2%) less, respectively.
  • The significant progress has been driven primarily by the Australian Government’s Reef Rescue program along with Queensland Government and industry-led initiatives.

Table: Cape York progress and status


Paddock to Reef program

The Paddock to Reef program, funded jointly by the Australian and Queensland Governments, is a highly innovative approach to integrating monitoring and modelling information on management practices, catchment indicators, catchment loads and the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

Progress towards targets


Last updated:
27 August, 2014
Last reviewed:
10 July, 2013

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