Project Catalyst is a pioneering partnership aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of sugar production on the Great Barrier Reef through innovative farming practices. Project Catalyst seeks to test and validate practices that are good for farmers and also good for the Reef.
The project was made possible by the Coca-Cola Foundation, which contributed $2.5 million to the project over five years.
Improving water quality from agricultural catchments is vital to improving the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef in the face of many threats, including climate change.
As part of Project Catalyst, some 78 farmers are working to improve soil, nutrient, pesticide, irrigation and storm water management on over 20,000 hectares of farm land.
Polluted water entering the Great Barrier Reef is a major threat to this global natural icon, compounding the adverse effects of climate change. Inshore areas of the Reef, close to agricultural land, are significantly affected by suspended sediment, nutrients and herbicides.
Further declines in water quality and inshore habitats will have serious economic and social implications for coastal communities, which derive an income from activities such as fishing and reef-based tourism.
Project Catalyst is tackling this problem by showcasing the benefits of more efficient farming practices, which use fewer inputs of fertilisers and herbicides but deliver similar or improved yields – generating higher economic returns for farmers as well as better water quality.
The project brings together diverse stakeholders – local cane growers and Natural Resource Management (NRM) groups, WWF and The Coca-Cola Foundation – who all share an interest in sustainable production and in protecting the Great Barrier Reef.
Detailed water quality monitoring shows that Project Catalyst has reduced pollutant loads and improved the quality of over 100,000 mega litres of run-off and drainage water entering the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.
Project Catalyst was made possible by the Coca-Cola Foundation who in February 2014 announced a further $500,000 grant to Project Catalyst Australia. This will bring their total investment into the Project to $3.25 million over the past six years.
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