How the Major Integrated Projects came about

THE Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Water Science Taskforce recommended two major integrated projects (MIPs) in its final report released in May 2016 (GBR Water Science Taskforce, 2016).

The Queensland Government, through the Office of the Great Barrier Reef (OGBR) within the Department of the Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), agreed to implement this recommendation to reduce nutrient, sediment and pesticide loads in the Wet Tropics and Burdekin regions.

The MIPs aim to concentrate interventions and management efforts at a catchment scale and fully evaluate their effectiveness in improving water quality.

The approach is being trialled in two regions to test whether it is effective and suitable for broader application. In the Wet Tropics, the project has engaged with cane and banana growers within the Tully and Johnstone catchments to develop a strategy to reduce nutrient and pesticide run-off. In the Burdekin, the project has engaged with graziers in the Bowen-Broken-Bogie (BBB) catchment to develop a strategy to reduce sediment and associated particulate nutrient run-off.

The MIPs will deliver a mix of tools and interventions during a three-year period in a focused and integrated way in known hot spot areas for nutrients, sediments and pesticides.

Examples of tools and interventions include, but are not limited to, one-on-one extension, peer to peer learning, trialling and promoting innovative agricultural practices, remediation actions, customised incentives, stewardship payments and systems repair works.

These projects will build on and integrate with existing activities to maximise efficiencies and outcomes.

The MIPs will explore and test the efficacy of a strategic integrated and comprehensive engagement and behavioural change process.

As a pilot program, the MIPs will evaluate and communicate the environmental, economic and social benefits and corresponding costs (in terms of investment required). If successful, the approaches can then be appropriately applied across GBR catchments.

Graziers and local communities in hot spot areas will be closely engaged in designing, delivering and evaluating the projects.

The MIPs provide an opportunity to design and deliver a range of interventions to improve water quality from the ground up, in a focused and tailored way; while also testing the effectiveness of this approach and adapting it as needed over the life of the project.

Building on the science and learnings developed over the last decade or more of delivering reef water quality programs, the regions are now in an ideal position to implement this approach.

Principal Scientist Jane Waterhouse, CSIRO technical representative Christian Roth, and Carl Mitchell EHP in discussion during the Design Phase of the Landholders Driving change project

Participants at a workshop in the first stage of the Major Integrated Project that was to become the Landholders Driving Change project