2020 Report Card for South East Queensland released: can we still claim beautiful one day, perfect the next?

A Report Card for South East Queensland has been released today, arming the region with 20-years of comprehensive monitoring data to guide the action needed to build the prosperity, liveability, and sustainability of the growing region.


It is a milestone year for the long-running program, marking 20 years of intensive data collection and reporting.

“This puts the wealth of valuable trend information that South East Queensland needs, to be able to adapt to the significant pressures ahead, at our fingertips,” says Julie McLellan, CEO of Healthy Land and Water, the natural resource management group for South East Queensland and body charged with running the Report Card project.

“Not the least of these pressures is the attractiveness of South East Queensland as a destination to live and to visit,” says Ms McLellan.

South East Queensland attracts people from around the world because of its climate, liveability, economic opportunities, quality education, natural assets, and affordable living. It is home to around 3.5 million people and is expected to grow by almost 2 million people over the next 25 years.

“It is important to keep in mind that the very things that attract people to live and visit Queensland’s south east corner are also impacted by the increasing development this increased activity brings,” says Ms McLellan.

“The information the Report Card brings together helps guide decisions to adapt to these additional pressures by guiding concerted and well-informed action.”

“What’s exciting is that everything is connected – one action leads to another. Like a ripple effect, an action to improve will lead to multiple other benefits being delivered across a range of areas.”

She points to the importance of waterways in providing vital habitat for wildlife, their contribution to the economy through recreational benefits, and the central role they play in environmental wellbeing.

“An unexpected result of COVID-19 was the major shift in connection and importance on natural assets – there has been widespread reports that the events surrounding the pandemic had acted to refocus people on the importance of their natural attractions,” says Ms McLellan.

She says the online Report Card delivers the results of a long-running environmental and socio-economic monitoring program designed to protect and build the resilience of a region under pressure because of the ever-increasing numbers of people drawn to live and visit Queensland’s south east corner.”

It comes back to the adage: if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Ms McLellan says it was the need to adapt to building pressures that was one of the driving reasons behind development of the report card by Healthy Land and Water two decades ago.

“A lot of people don’t know that South East Queensland was a frontrunner in this – the Report Card developed for South East Queensland proved an excellent tool and has since been emulated throughout Australia and in many other countries across the globe.

She says having 20 years of data helps show trends which can be used to prioritise action, understand the impact of actions at a more focused timescale, and generate forecasts of future results based on the actions underway.

“Having the long-term trend data helps to focus action where it is needed most. It also helps drive investment decisions,” says Ms McLellan.

“Perhaps more importantly, this approach has a greater potential to inspire and empower greater community action to create lasting change. Long gone are the days of seeing this as a school-inspired Report Card delivering a point in time results.

“By helping people understand the values and condition of South East Queensland’s environment, we can help ensure the sustainable use of our natural environment long into the future.”

Healthy Land and Water says the success of the South East Queensland model is the absolute partnership approach. They say this can only been achieved by bipartisan support and deep collaboration between industry, scientists, researchers, politicians, all government, universities, and communities partnering to work together to create real change.

“The data helps us plan and take concerted action to protect and enhance our region which is essential if we are going to retain our enviable reputation as a great place to live, work, and visit.

“There has been a lot of wins, but more needs to be done and the data will help guide future investment and efforts.”

Healthy Land and Water has posted the headline items for 2020, together with this year’s results and long-term trends on the online portal which went live today.



To arrange interviews or for more information:

Contact Suzi Moore 0427 641 239 or suzi.m@hlw.org.au


About Healthy Land and Water

  • Healthy Land and Water delivers innovative and science-based solutions to environmental challenges in South East Queensland. With expertise in environmental research, monitoring, training, and evaluation, we work to make South East Queensland clean, green, healthy, and liveable.

About the Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program

  • Healthy Land and Water is committed to understanding the pressures facing our waterways so we can better protect them, and the benefits they provide, for future generations. For over 20 years (since 1999) we have conducted a comprehensive monitoring program, and data from the program has been compiled and analysed to form the annual Report Card.
  • The Report Card provides an annual assessment of the ecosystem health of South East Queensland’s waterways via A-F health grades.
  • It is the culmination of twelve months of scientific monitoring at 312 freshwater, estuarine, marine, and event monitoring sites throughout the region. Given the importance of waterways to the region, it also incorporates the social and economic benefits that waterways provide to local communities though a 1- 5 star rating.

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