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Mackay Whitsunday regional summary

The Mackay Whitsunday region covers an area of 9000km² and has significant biodiversity assets, mainly in national parks and state lands including marine parks. The subtropical to tropical climate is characterised by a distinct wet season between January and March. In 2009–2010 the region received well above median rainfall. In addition, Cyclone Ului impacted on the Mackay Whitsunday region in early 2010. The main agricultural land uses are grazing (42%) and sugarcane (18%) with some horticulture (approximately 0.05%).

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.

The regional Natural Resource Management body, Reef Catchments, supports the region’s agricultural industries in adopting improved farming practices, lowering pollutant loads and removing associated threats to the reef. In order to determine the relative effectiveness of these improved practices, the region has implemented a detailed paddock scale monitoring and modelling program.


Key findings

  • The overall marine condition in 2009–2010 was moderate. Inshore water quality and coral reefs remained moderate and seagrass meadows remained poor.
  • Overall, progress towards Reef Plan targets has been encouraging; however it will take time for these achievements to translate into improved marine condition.
  • 17% of sugarcane growers, 41% of horticulture producers and 17% of graziers have adopted improved land management practices.
  • The greatest proportional catchment load reduction was the pesticide load with an estimated 376kg (18%) less.
  • The significant progress has been driven primarily by the Australian Government’s Reef Rescue program along with Queensland Government and industry-led initiatives.

Table: Mackay Whitsunday 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

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