Young Leader Emma Camp Works to Increase the Resilience of the Great Barrier Reef

One of the Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals, Dr. Emma Camp, along with her colleague A/Prof. David Suggett of the Future Reefs Program [1] at the University of Technology Sydney, and a key partner Wavelength Reef Cruises [2] have established a new partnership on the Great Barrier Reef – aimed at transforming site stewardship of coral reefs that are under threat from human impacts.

Their project – The Coral Nurture Program [3] – is a new approach for the Great Barrier Reef, initiated by a partnership between science and tourism. Their unique approach is not about “reef restoration” as such, but rather long-term stewardship and adaptation at economically valuable reef locations, increasing readily available management tools beyond existing options to include boosting live coral cover by planting corals.

The Coral Nurture Program aims to builds both economic and ecological resilience by enabling tour operators to develop a new practitioner network. As much as 90% of the ‘reef value’ comes from tourism, but less than five percent of the reef sites are used for tourism. Thus, protecting this small percentage is important, and one way of doing that is to help tourist operators secure the future of their reef sites by giving them tools for reef stewardship. The aim of which is to maintain existing good quality reef sites but also aid those impacted by coral bleaching, storms and Crown of Thorns starfish.

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the largest coral reef on Earth and one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It is listed as a World Heritage site and the reasons for this are clear: it provides habitat to over 7000 species of marine creatures and supports the livelihoods of communities along the Australian coast through tourism and fisheries. In recent years, however, coral bleaching, in combination with other local stressors has resulted in a large decline in coral health. Through this initiative, the team hopes to aid the reef’s resilience.