Navigating the Shifting Sands of Community Values and Outlook

Navigating the Shifting Sands of Community Values and Outlook

Understanding the status and trends of the human dimensions within communities of the Great Barrier Reef and adjacent catchments enables better integration into planning and management. Afterall, more than 940,000 people live, work and play in Great Barrier Reef coastal areas, islands, and waters; and the Reef provides employment for about 69,000 people.

Tropical Ecosystems Hub researchers from Project 10.1 ‘Social and Economic Long Term Monitoring Program for the Great Barrier Reef’ have undertaken comprehensive surveys of national residents, local residents, tourists, tourism operators and commercial fishers. And they haven’t finished. The team is currently engaging Traditional Owners, ports and shipping, catchment industries and mining.

The project team engages Great Barrier Reef managers and other research users at all stages of the research process. Consequently, SELTMP represents a significant collaboration between government, industry, community and researchers.

The SELTMP has been designed to describe conditions and trends of the human dimension of the Great Barrier Reef. It is produced on an ongoing basis so that planners and managers are informed of the shifting patterns of use, vulnerability to change, level of well-being and a range of contextual indicators, such as perceptions, attitudes, values, experiences and behaviours.

The SELTMP offers an opportunity to understand and monitor the growing threat of human actions on the Reef and its catchment and the corresponding capacity of industries and communities to face challenges such as climate change, environmental degradation, regulatory change and cultural change, and to better support ecosystem resilience. The monitoring of conditions and trends can alert Reef managers and other decisions-makers to changes in the system, impacts associated with planned or unplanned interventions, levels of public support, and the social and economic trade-offs associated with decision-making.

Better incorporation of the human dimension into Reef management is likely to lead to lower transaction costs, decrease uncertainty associated with decision making, increase public support for management decisions, increase the effectiveness of Reef management strategies, maximise the benefits that people derive from the Reef, and reduce the social and economic impacts associated with management.

To date, the project team has synthesized available data and collected much needed primary data to construct a 2013 snapshot of the social and economic dimension of the Great Barrier Reef and its catchments. The findings are not only valuable information for the GBRMPA Outlook Report and for the GBR Strategic Assessment but may also be useful for regional natural resource management bodies currently assembling regional plans.

Contact Dr. Nadine Marshall ( for more information. Read the 2013 report and an array of supporting information at:


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