The Great Barrier Reef is Important

Australia’s greatest natural treasure

The Great Barrier Reef is a massive, well-managed marine park that is internationally recognised as a World Heritage Area for its outstanding universal values. Despite all that, it’s still at risk.

Habitats for countless species

Coral reefs account for only 7% of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park area. The rest is comprised of other marine habitats, including inshore mangroves, seagrass, algal and sponge gardens, giant clam gardens, sand, soft sediment seabed, mud, bedrock, shoals and deeper waters on the continental slope beyond the outer reef. Many species use different habitats at different stages of their lives. Species loss in any one habitat can have consequences elsewhere.

Globally, coral reefs occupy less than 0.1% of the world’s ocean surface, but provide a habitat for 25% of all marine species. A 2011 paper estimates there are more than 2 million marine species in total, of which less than 10% have been described by science.

Lizard Island science is advancing knowledge of thousands of local species, many of which are recorded in the Lizard Island Field Guide.

A vast, beautiful, precious wilderness

The Great Barrier Reef is Australia’s greatest natural treasure. It is carefully managed by Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Queensland Government. It was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981, meeting international criteria for Outstanding Universal Value.

These two websites explain it’s extraordinary values.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority > the Reef

UNESCO > World Heritage List

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has been monitoring the Great Barrier Reef since the 1980s. This is the longest continuous record of coral reef communities at such a large scale anywhere in the world.

AIMS long-term monitoring program

The Australian and Queensland Governments have developed a framework for protecting and managing the Great Barrier Reef to 2050.

Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan

Jobs, dollars and food

The Great Barrier Reef is hugely valuable to Australia’s economy through the activities of tourism, recreation, commercial fishing and research. The GBR is also a significant source of food for local indigenous people, and an important part of the food chain and life cycle for fish caught elsewhere.

Return to Why Donate?

The Great Barrier Reef has a economic, social
and icon asset value of $56 billion. It supports
64,000 jobs and contributes $6.4 billion to the
Australian economy.

Deloitte Access Economics, 2017

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More reasons to donate


Advancing knowledge of the reef

Coral reef science is still a young discipline and we have so much to learn. Find out more >


One of the best research facilities

With our backing, Lizard Island Research Station provides outstanding opportunities for research and education and is hugely productive. Learn more >


Research needs support

Lizard Island Research Station would not exist and could not continue without LIRRF donor support. Find out why >

Coral reefs need our help

The Great Barrier Reef is a vital part of our ecosystem and a natural wonder beloved by Australians. It is a World Heritage Area that is at risk of being listed as 'in danger' in recognition of the many challenges it faces.

Science and the will for change are the only possible solutions. Our work is helping.

Will you help us?


Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation
c/- Australian Museum
1 William Street, Sydney NSW 2010

Lizard Island Research Station
+61 (0)7 4060 3977

Weather & Ocean Observations

Latest Lizard Island Weather & Oceanic Observations from the AIMS Data Centre

We acknowledge Dingaal and Ngurrumungu Traditional Owners of the lands, seas and skies of the Lizard Island region.