The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest and most diverse reef ecosystem. Its scientific, cultural and environmental values are world-renowned: UNESCO added the Reef to the World Heritage List more than 40 years ago for its Outstanding Universal Value. We’re working hard to safeguard our unique natural wonder.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and visible from space. It’s 2,300 kilometres long and covers an area larger than New Zealand. From wetlands and rivers to beaches and coral reefs, the Reef’s habitats are home to a stunning array of species.

Our Reef is under pressure from multiple human activities and natural threats. The biggest threat is climate change. Other more local challenges include poor water quality due to land-based pollution, pests such as the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish, fishing and coastal development. The Reef goes through cycles of disturbance and recovery and conditions can vary across locations.

It’s our Reef, our wonder.

Tagline: Our Reef Our Wonder

    Importance of the Reef

    The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most remarkable places on earth. It’s integral to the lives and history of First Nations people, and highly valued by Australian and international communities having been on the UNESCO World Heritage List for more than 40 years.

    • UNESCO World Heritage Area
      The Reef was declared a World Heritage Area in 1981 because of its Outstanding Universal Value which includes it global importance and natural worth. World Heritage sites are places that are important to and belong to everyone, no matter where they are located.
    • Deloitte Access Economics Report
      A Deloitte Access Economics Report found the Reef is priceless and irreplaceable, calculating its total economic, social and icon asset value as $56 billion.

    Reef facts

    The Great Barrier Reef is larger than New Zealand, covering 344,400 square kilometres (around 70 million football fields). It stretches more than 2,300 kilometres along Queensland’s coastline and is made up of around 3,000 individual coral reefs.

    Discover key facts about the Great Barrier Reef.

    Current Reef health

    The Queensland and Australian governments closely monitor Reef conditions and health throughout the year. Sea surface temperatures, rainfall levels, coral bleaching and cover, and coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks are assessed.

    • Reef health reports
      The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority issues weekly Reef health reports during summer and monthly reports during the cooler months.
    • Overall health
      The overall health of the Reef depends on the condition of many elements including water quality, wetlands, estuarine ecosystems and seagrasses, as well as coral and other species.

    Reef threats

    Climate change is the biggest threat facing the Great Barrier Reef, alongside problems that are more locally manageable. The combined impact of multiple threats makes it harder for the Reef to recover from serious disturbances.

    • Threats
      Like all tropical coral reefs around the world, the Great Barrier Reef faces some serious threats which have the potential to further weaken its resilience.
    • Climate change
      The Queensland Government has set bold but achievable targets to tackle climate change and reduce emissions while creating jobs.
    • Water quality
      Land-based run-off is the greatest contributor to poor water quality in the inshore areas of the Great Barrier Reef. When it comes to the long-term survival of the Reef, the most manageable impact is reducing this pollutant source.
    • Crown-of-thorns starfish
      Coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks cause significant damage to coral reefs and have been one of the major causes of coral decline over the past 40 years. Taking direct action to manage outbreaks supports the Reef’s capacity to resist, repair and recover from threats.
    • Other major threats
      Learn more about the biggest threats to the Great Barrier Reef.

    Reef species

    Hundreds of thousands of marine and coral species call the Great Barrier Reef home, making it one of the most unique and complex ecosystems in the world.

    • Animals
      The Reef is home to a stunning array of animals, from microscopic plankton to whales weighing more than 100 tonnes.
    • Threatened species
      It also provides a refuge for many threatened species.

    Case study: Preserving the wonder

    The Great Barrier Reef is still great but faces some challenges. View the Preserve the Wonder video to explore how many people including rangers, farmers, scientists and the community are working to Preserve the Wonder of the Great Barrier Reef.

    Watch video about Preserving the wonder

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    Gudjuda Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers monitor turtles including weighing them and checking for disease.