reef and coastline
The values and threats for the reef section have been extracted from Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, (LTSP) Commonwealth of Australia 2015.
In summary, these criteria are:
- superlative natural beauty
- outstanding geological, geomorphic or physiographic features
- outstanding examples of ecological and biological processes
- the most important and significant natural habitats for biological diversity.
Coastal resources are valued for:
recreation and tourism
cultural and social significance
food production ‐ commercial fishing and aquaculture ‐ commercial products such as nutritional supplements and medicines
Lack of ecosystem understanding
The inner reefs and seagrass beds along the Daintree coast have over time adapted to low clarity (turbidity) that occurs from shallowness, waves and wind, plus heavy rainfall events that send out large plumes of sediment from the Daintree River.
The corals of the inner reefs have adapted to these conditions.
Seagrass beds also tolerate low clarity and unlike areas south of us are not subjected to a large extent from agricultural runoff that not only carries nutrients and pesticides, but also fine sediments.
The Great Barrier Reef was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981 in recognition of its Outstanding Universal Value.
The Great Barrier Reef was inscribed for all four of the natural criteria specified in the Convention concerning the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage (World Heritage Convention).
It is acknowledged that information is not easy to come by, but the first step may be to access the knowledge for greater understanding.
Along the Daintree coast there are unique habitats such as Nationally Threatened communities of Littoral Rainforest and Coastal Vine Thickets, plus many short length freshwater and brackish streams that flow to the coast. The pressures on these are localised, such as the erosion at Cow Bay beach, principally caused from inappropriate access (both pedestrian and vehicles to the beach combined with severe storms). Out of sight is the ever increasing density of Pond Apple in the Baileys Creek floodplain and Cape Kimberly.
Another issue not given enough attention, is the restriction of fauna (fish and crustaceans) moving along a stream that connects to the sea because of barriers such as inappropriate culverts/causeways. You may see this issue cited as connectivity and fish barriers.
The main threat is visiting pig dogs and their irresponsible owners. Pet owners north of the Daintree River who have dogs and cats need to pay attention to their pets habits and don’t allow them to wander.
Driving on the beach compacts the sand, damaging habitat of fauna living in the sand and destroys the primary dune vegetation, resulting in erosion. Impact of pedestrian traffic on dune vegetation is also an issue in localised areas.
- Main threat is visiting pig dogs and their owners not able to control them. Pig dogs also impact on native fauna, especially the endangered Cassowary.
- Pigs are significant contributors to impact on flora and fauna. They have been observed to dig turtle nests on beaches and prey on Cassowary eggs.
- Increases in nutrient levels from fertilisers and effluents are a significant risk to the reef, causing a domination of fast-growing soft corals that out-compete slow-growing hard corals. Low population densities and limited farmlands along the Daintree coastal lowlands however mean as a whole we are not a big contributor to this, though there may be a significant localised impact. This also applies to erosion, mostly by pigs.
- If you have a septic system, make sure it has been sludged in the past 3-5 years and may be contaminating the water-table and nearby waterways.
- If you have a composting toilet, ensure the compost dries out completely before putting it in the environment – it will is a serious health and environmental risk.
Sedimentation from erosion affects the coral’s ability to capture sunlight and regenerate, especially after cyclones. In the wet season run-off from unsealed roads is high and the impact is visible in adjacent lagoons and seagrass beds, although the impact is localised.
- A sea level rise, severe weather and erosion may irreversibly change the coastline through primary dune erosion and inundation, but it may also adapt if given the time and space.
- Present equilibrium of diversity will shift, with corals and fish able to adapt to increase, while those with less ability to adapt to decrease in density.
We welcome you to browse the following two resources for further information about the affect of climate change on the Daintree:
This video is based on work by James Cook University and CSIRO that looks at the implications of climate change for Far North Queensland.
You may like to also refer to the Coastal Hazard Maps from the State Government’s Coastal Management Plan which is broken down more specifically for the Daintree into the regions Cape Kimberley, Cow Bay and Cape Tribulation.