Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Protected Area Grows


One hundred and forty islands or parts thereof within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park have been added to Queensland’s protected areas estate.

  • The acquisitions, with a combined total land size of 1,390 hectares, will protect endangered and of-concern ecosystems as well as vital habitats for important species such as green and flatback turtles, seabirds and shorebirds.
  • The acquisitions are in addition to the recent acquisition of the 1,600ha Spadely Station on Curtis Island.
  • The protection of the Great Barrier Reef has been further boosted by the addition of 140 islands or parts thereof within the marine park to Queensland’s protected areas estate.

    The additional lands, with a combined total of 1,390 hectares, form part of the Miles Government’s Great Barrier Reef Island Arks project.

    The project increases reef island protection, by acquiring or transferring high conservation value islands, or parts thereof, to add to Queensland’s protected area estate, ensuring endangered and of-concern ecosystems and habitat for important species such as green and flatback turtles, seabirds and shorebirds are protected for future generations.

    Lands secured under this project contain significant conservation values, and their dedication as protected area estate ensures their ecological values are preserved.

    The additional areas are secured by purchasing leasehold properties, including non-operational leases, and land reserves adjacent to national parks, and by transferring ecologically valuable unallocated state land to protected area estate.

    The Great Barrier Reef Island Arks project complements the acquisition of the 1,600ha Spadely Station on Curtis Island late last year.

    The purchase of Spadely Station, hailed as a win by the state’s conservation groups, ensures ongoing protection for Curtis Island’s estuarine wetlands, migratory bird habitat, threatened fauna species and nesting habitat for the vulnerable flatback turtle.

    Queensland’s terrestrial protected areas currently cover more than 14.5 million hectares or 8.39% of the state’s total land area. The Miles Government has acquired more than 410,000 hectares and earmarked it for future inclusion in the protected areas estate.

    In addition to dedicating these islands as protected area, the Miles Government’s Great Barrier Reef Island Arks project is also funding, where necessary, their rehabilitation. Demolition contractors are currently removing old, dilapidated structures and plant and equipment from St Bees Island. This follows from the clean-up of the former resort on Wild Duck Island in August 2023.

    Quotes attributable to Premier Steven Miles:

    “I am passionate about protecting Queensland’s world-renowned Great Barrier Reef and its unique ecosystem for the next generation, and all those that follow.

    “Our commitment to expand the protected areas within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park will mean important breading areas and nesting sites can be preserved.

    “One of my first acts as Premier was a commitment to take strong action on emission reductions, and we are progressing the legislation to lock in a 75 by 35 target.

    “When we say something, we do something and it’s my promise to Queenslanders and the world that my government will always take care of the Great Barrier Reef and it’s natural wonders.”

    Quotes attributable to the Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Leanne Linard:

    “The Great Barrier Reef Island Arks project is yet another demonstration of the Miles Government’s commitment to protecting the iconic Great Barrier Reef and the wide variety of species who call it home.

    “Through this project, we are protecting vital ecosystems and habitats for species like green and flatback turtles, seabirds and shorebirds.

    “Including these pristine locations in protected areas will further preserve their conservation values and ensure our wildlife will thrive.

    “That’s why the government is investing $262.5 million through our Protected Area Strategy to acquire more critical habitat, and why we’re delivering on our election commitment Great Barrier Reef Island Arks Program.

    “We are not about to rest – my department continues work to identify other parcels of land that can be acquired and added to our already impressive protected areas estate, ensuring they are protected for the benefit of the environment and our community.”

    Quotes attributable to Member for Mackay, Julieanne Gilbert:

    “We must never rest in our efforts to protect and conserve our iconic Great Barrier Reef.

    “The Reef Island Arks Project and the acquisitions that have been made further demonstrate the Miles Government’s strong commitment to protecting the reef and its contribution to our environment, economy and lifestyle.

    “We also know that climate change is another significant threat to the reef.

    “That’s why our government introduced legislation into State Parliament last week to enshrine our ambitious greenhouse gas emissions targets into law.

    “The Miles Government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent based on 2005 levels by 2035 and achieve net zero emissions by 2050, in line with leading global economies.

    “Reducing emissions will go a long way to protecting the reef and the thousands of species that call it home.

    Quotes attributable to the Chief Executive Officer of the National Parks Association of Queensland Inc, Chris Thomas:

    “As we continue to face environmental challenges and the delicate balance between human progress and nature conservation, the importance of Queensland’s protected areas has never been more pronounced.

    “Our protected areas serve as sanctuaries for biodiversity, crucial reservoirs of clean air and water, and havens for sustainable recreational and educational experiences.

    “National parks and other protected areas play a pivotal role in biodiversity conservation.

    “These natural habitats provide refuge to countless plant and animal species, many of which are endangered or at risk of extinction.

    “With the increase in protected areas in Queensland, we ensure the survival of these species and contribute to the overall health and resilience of ecosystems, while providing more natural spaces for the community to visit, learn about and enjoy.”

    Quotes attributable to Queensland Conservation Council protected areas campaigner Nicky Moffat:

    “This is wonderful news for nature and communities in several Queensland regions – more island ecosystems protected as national parks for all Queenslanders to enjoy.

    “From Cairns to Mackay and down to Gladstone, the Great Barrier Reef’s island and coastal national parks will now be more connected and this will help ensure their health into the future.

    “Queensland has spectacular, unique landscapes and they need to be cared for. Well-funded protected areas are vitally important and it’s great to see leadership from this Government towards the important goal of doubling Queensland’s protected areas estate.”

    /Public Release. View in full here.