Rapid assessment workshop for the development of the Outlook Report 2014

Rapid assessment workshop for the development of the Outlook Report 2014

An Outlook Consensus workshop was organised and convened by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) in Townsville on 14–16 October 2013 supported by ‘Contestable Funds’ from the Tropical Ecosystems Hub. The objective of the workshop was to secure an independent set of expert judgments about condition, trends and risks in the Great Barrier Reef Region that could be used to inform GBRMPA’s preparation of the 2014 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report.

The workshop involved eliciting information and consensus from 31 subject experts selected by GBRMPA. The workshop was convened and moderated an external facilitator with extensive experience in the conduct of similar elicitation exercises.

The three-day workshop process involved anonymous voting on the condition, trends and risks relating to the Great Barrier Reef Region. The voting procedures were conducted using a pre-set decision structure derived from the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2009, and within a specified set of assumptions and guidance.

The workshop outcomes confirm the extent and breadth of opinion held in the scientific community about a number of issues in the Region. A key outcome is confirmation that the condition of a substantial number of habitats and species in the Region is considered to be substantially degraded compared to their expected condition if there had been no human influence on the ecosystem.

Human influence and hence impacts are continuing, and are considered to be resulting in a broad trend of continuing but variable declines in biodiversity and ecosystem health in the region. The trend of current decline is evidenced by the much larger number of both biodiversity and ecosystem health condition components considered to be deteriorating compared to the number that are improving. This relates to the dominant current risks: impacts of climate change, human activities and development in the coastal areas and rivers discharging to the region, and the direct extraction of resources, including fishing. The findings provide a strong basis for the development of a robust 2014 Outlook Report.

The full report has been submitted to Government and can be accessed at http://elibrary.gbrmpa.gov.au/jspui/bitstream/11017/2858/1/Expert%20Workshop%20Report%20-%20GBR%20Outlook%202014_Web060614.pdf.

For more information, contact Dr Fergus Molloy from GBRMPA at fergus.molloy@gbrmpa.gov.au.




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