Welcome to Issue 12 of View on TWQ, the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ)’s quarterly newsletter.
This year has been sobering for those involved in management of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Severe coral bleaching has occurred on the GBR for the second year in a row. In addition, the GBR has been affected by another severe category cyclone (Debbie) after being hit by several higher category cyclones in recent years. The GBR has very high resilience and can bounce back quite quickly from individual disturbances, but the quick succession of the recent disturbances, and the science pointing to higher frequency disturbances being the new normal, predicates an adjustment to reef management strategies. A series of recent meetings and workshops have done just that and it is clear that there is wide support for taking a more active, interventionist approach to reef management. This would include prioritisation of assets and actively assisting recovery after disturbances, rather than just letting nature ‘take its course’. Such actions are not radical though, being common place in the management of terrestrial national parks and world heritage areas. But now, it is widely agreed, we need to apply such thinking to the GBR. In response to this, the TWQ Hub will alter its focus for this year’s funding round, to cater for active intervention and planning in the GBR. This is one of the great benefits of the NESP and the manner in which it is rolled out – that individual Hubs like the TWQ Hub can be flexible in their delivery, and be able to respond rapidly with the application of significant resources to emergent environmental issues when they arise.
I look forward to seeing how TWQ Hub research can lead the way in contributing to this agenda.