In 2022, a UN-backed mission to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia concluded that the planet’s biggest coral reef system is ‘in danger’. Less than a year later, the Australian government is taking action, officially kickstarting its innovative Reef Credit Scheme to improve the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef.
As part of the launch, the government has awarded contracts to Palladium and GreenCollar to help secure new investments and work with landholders to develop Reef Credit projects that prevent sediment from reaching the Great Barrier Reef.
“This as an important step toward growing this environmentally important market, and will result in meaningful outcomes for Queensland landholders and the Great Barrier Reef,” says Palladium co-CEO Bernadette Howlett.
An excess amount of nutrients (such as dissolved inorganic nitrogen, which can be found in fertilisers) affects the natural balance of reef ecosystems. The result is lower coral biodiversity, algal blooms, coral bleaching, and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish which are toxic and prey on coral. One way this can be prevented is by filling in gullies that have formed over the last century, particularly on grazing properties, and reducing fertiliser use in sugar and banana production.
The Reef Credit Scheme means farmers and landholders in Reef regions can do what it takes to reduce nutrient and sediment run-off, while earning additional income by generating and selling Reef Credits. It gives everyone a way to do the right thing without sacrificing their livelihood.
Similar to carbon credits, the Reef Credits are tradeable units that can be sold to government, the private sector, and philanthropists. Each Reef Credit represents a kilogram of dissolved inorganic nitrogen or a total of 538 kilograms of fine sediment that has been prevented from reaching the Reef.
As part of its AU $10 million commitment to support the development of the Reef Credit market, the Queensland Government will provide a guarantee of purchase for any Reef Credits that cannot be sold into the private market.
According to Leanne Linard, Australian Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, the scheme is already being recognised. “The UNESCO World Heritage Committee last week announced that it would not list the reef as being ‘in-danger’ because of the significant action that our government has taken, alongside the work of the Albanese Government, to respond to the threats facing the reef,” she says.
Palladium will work with Griffith University to deliver gully restoration benefits that meet the highest scientific standards, Howlett explains. “This additional partnership with the Queensland Government will help to reduce risk in the early phases of this new market, ensuring that we can work alongside landholders, regional and rural communities, and Traditional Owners to protect the Great Barrier Reef.”
For more, read 'Global Heatwaves and the Race to Save the Ocean's Coral Reefs', or contact email@example.com.