, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 166–177 | Cite as

The role the Great Barrier Reef plays in resident wellbeing and implications for its management

  • Silva Larson
  • Natalie StoecklEmail author
  • Marina Farr
  • Michelle Esparon


Improvements in human wellbeing are dependent on improving ecosystems. Such considerations are particularly pertinent for regions of high ecological, but also social and cultural importance that are facing rapid change. One such region is the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Although the GBR has world heritage status for its ‘outstanding universal value’, little is known about resident perceptions of its values. We surveyed 1545 residents, finding that absence of visible rubbish; healthy reef fish, coral cover, and mangroves; and iconic marine species, are considered to be more important to quality of life than the jobs and incomes associated with industry (most respondents were dissatisfied with the benefits they received from industry). Highly educated females placed more importance on environmental non-use values than other respondents; less educated males and those employed in mining found non-market use-values relatively more important. Environmental non-use values emerged as the most important management priority for all.


Australia GBRWHA IDS Perceptions Quality of life Values 



This study was funded by the Tropical Ecosystems Hub, part of the Australian Government’s Commonwealth National Environmental Research Program. The NERP TE Hub is administered in North Queensland by the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Limited (RRRC). The NERP Tropical Ecosystem Hub addresses issues of concern for the management, conservation and sustainable use of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and its catchments, tropical rainforests including the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (WTWHA), and the terrestrial and marine assets underpinning resilient communities in the Torres Strait, through the generation and transfer of world-class research and shared knowledge. We wish to thank Ms Hana Sakata, Mr Leon Appo, and others for their help with data collection and entry. We also wish to thank the focus group participants, interviewees, and hundreds of anonymous householders who took the time to complete our survey: without their contribution this study would not be possible.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 100 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silva Larson
    • 1
  • Natalie Stoeckl
    • 1
    Email author
  • Marina Farr
    • 1
  • Michelle Esparon
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Business and the Cairns InstituteJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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