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New partnership unlocks largest blue carbon restoration project in Great Barrier Reef catchment

Coles and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation have announced a 10-year, $10 million partnership to help strengthen the regeneration and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef.

Under the new partnership, JCU TropWATER Centre is leading a major coastal habitat restoration project – and it will be the largest blue carbon project to date in Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef catchment.

Led by Dr. Nathan Waltham, TropWATER’s Principal Research Scientist, the project will work with farmers to reinstate significant coastal wetlands in the Great Barrier Reef catchment, restoring coastal habitats and serving as highly effective carbon sinks.

“The funding provides us the first opportunity to undertake large-scale restoration in the Great Barrier Reef catchments, delivering outcomes for the reef, climate, biodiversity, and water quality,” he said.

“Wide-scale loss of coastal wetlands and changing climate conditions mean that we need to roll out major projects like this, and this funding is a start in helping us deliver ecosystem service returns for landholders, Traditional Owners of Country, industry, and government agencies.”

Through the partnership, Coles will dedicate funds towards a number of innovative projects based on ‘blue carbon’ – the process of capturing and storing carbon in oceanic or coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrasses.

Thinus Keeve, Coles Chief Sustainability, Property, and Export Officer said: “Coles is already making great strides in our Together to Zero emissions ambition and our partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation represents the latest phase in our commitment to show leadership on sustainability.”

“Our investment in the regeneration and revegetation of coastal ecosystems will help build the resilience of the Reef and deliver projects that can make a difference at a meaningful scale,” he said.

Chief Scientist of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said: “We need the best science to develop bold, innovative ideas to protect coral reef habitats and slow the impacts of climate change, which is the biggest threat to the survival of the Great Barrier Reef.

“In addition to tackling the root cause of climate change, we must make reefs more resilient to the impacts of climate change that are already locked into the system."

“Coles’ partnership in blue carbon projects with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation is a prime example of the way we all can be working together to help the Reef and all its living diversity now and into the future. It is terrific to see one of Australia’s corporate greats generously engaging to solve one of the greatest challenges facing Australia.”

Coles’ investment will commence with two pilot projects designed to unlock the Reef’s blue carbon potential, increase biodiversity, accelerate scientific research, and support communities along the Reef.

In addition to Dr. Waltham’s wetland restoration project, the partnership is also developing the first large-scale seagrass nursery in partnership with leading seagrass researchers and Traditional Owners of the Reef.


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