THE Great Barrier Reef Foundation has launched a $20 million grant program for water quality projects to reduce land-based run-off on to the living wonder.

Crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks, one of the biggest killers of coral cover on the Reef, have been linked to nutrient run-off from farms and coastal areas.

Under the six-year Reef Trust Partnership, $201 million has been dedicated to improving water quality.

The crown-of-thorns starfish is one of the biggest killers of coral cover on the Reef.
The crown-of-thorns starfish is one of the biggest killers of coral cover on the Reef.

"Climate change is the number one threat to coral reefs,'' GBRF chief scientist Professor Peter Mumby said.

"But the science is clear that coral reefs need serious action both at the local and global level.

"Improving water quality is both a critical and practical pathway at a local level to improve the health of the Reef."

GBRF managing director Anna Marsden said there were three key objectives of the first call for applications.

"This first round of project grants aims to build on previous investments that have a proven track record in contributing to, and making progress towards, the targets set in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan," Ms Marsden said.

"Demonstrable improvements have been made and it's important that we maintain this momentum and build on those successes through this new funding.

"Secondly, there are some projects which are time critical, so this funding will ensure high-impact projects that have started will continue.

"And thirdly, we're aiming to build capacity through a network of skilled practitioners to deliver on-ground work within the Great Barrier Reef catchments. This capacity building will lay the foundation for future projects and is critical to the success of the whole water quality improvement program."

The minimum project value is $500,000 and projects must be ready to start in March 2019 in an area identified as high to medium priority in the Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.



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