The RRAP Investment Case and Concept Feasibility Study reports

In 2018, the Australian Government provided $6M for the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP) study into the feasibility of intervening at scale on the Great Barrier Reef to help it recover from, and adapt to, the effects of climate change.

Modelling and analysis by our partnership of leading Australian researchers found the Great Barrier Reef would need a large-scale, integrated approach to help protect and restore it, as well as assistance to help it adapt to the impacts of climate change.

In a business case presented to government in December 2019, RRAP outlined the significant research and development (R&D) effort required to apply rigorous testing and risk assessment to potential intervention methods.

These methods would form a toolkit of safe, acceptable interventions that could be implemented at an effective scale if, when and where it was decided action was needed. This would allow Reef managers and users to plan for a more optimistic future.

This suite of interventions would take an integrated three-point approach to helping the Great Barrier Reef:

  • Cooling and shading to help protect it from the impacts of climate change
  • Assisting Reef species to evolve and adapt to the changing environment, and minimise the need for ongoing intervention
  • Restoring damaged and degraded reefs.

This ambitious undertaking would require not only our best minds working in partnership across many organisations and fields of expertise, but importantly, the input and support of Traditional Owners, Reef communities and industries and the wider Australian public.

The analysis found effective intervention strategies, combined with carbon emissions reduction and best-practice conventional management, could double the likelihood of sustaining the Reef in good condition to 2050.

Potential returns to Australia through economic activity, jobs, community development and capacity-building were conservatively estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars, many times greater than the required investment.
The RRAP R&D Program will place Australia as the global leader in coral reef adaptation and restoration. It will open opportunities to partner internationally and export our know-how to other countries whose reefs face similar challenges.

•     RRAP R&D Program
•    The interventions being investigated

Investment Case

RRAP Investment Case

The overarching case for investing in a comprehensive R&D program to provide options to help protect and restore the Great Barrier Reef from the impacts of climate change. It includes a summary of the findings of the RRAP Concept Feasibility Program, a fully costed R&D program designed to provide policymakers with investment-ready interventions, and an optimal governance and program management structure to deliver it.

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Recommendation reports

R1: Engagement and Regulatory Dimensions

A summary of the engagement and regulatory environment findings of the RRAP Concept Feasibility Program, and recommendations for the required R&D for these areas.

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R2: Intervention Summary

A key reference document summarising the potential on-Reef interventions, how they were identified and organising them according to the ecological objective they were designed to achieve, the method used to deliver them to the Reef, and the scale at which they could be applied.

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R3: Intervention Analysis and Recommendations

A summary of the findings of the environmental and economic modelling analyses undertaken in the RRAP Concept Feasibility Program of the proposed interventions and recommendations for how the R&D program would identify and deliver robust intervention strategies for the Great Barrier Reef.

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R4: Research and Development Program

A summary of the recommended RRAP R&D Program required to deliver the recommendations of R3: Intervention Analysis and Recommendations.

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R5: International Engagement and Partnering

Recommendations for fostering better international coordination and collaboration in reef restoration science, training and implementation. This document provides a road map to harness global knowledge and direct and expand funding and resources for globally beneficial outcomes.

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R6: Governance and Program Delivery

This document outlines the recommended optimal governance structure and management systems for the RRAP R&D Program.

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Technical reports

T1: Stakeholder, Traditional Owner and Community Engagement and Assessment

This technical document outlines the findings of a representative survey of Australians, industry and stakeholder interviews, a desktop review scoping the issues and needs of Traditional Owners, and, a social media sentiment analysis. It highlights the critical information needs and challenges in engaging Traditional Owners, industry, stakeholders and the wider community in reef restoration and adaptation.

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T2: Regulatory Assessment Findings

This technical document outlines the findings of a comprehensive scan and analysis of the regulatory environment for restoration and adaptation activities in the Great Barrier Reef. It identifies complexity and gaps that would need addressing for effective intervention deployment.

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T3: Intervention Technical Summary

This technical document provides an overview of all potential intervention methods to protect and repair coral reefs considered during the RRAP Concept Feasibility Program. It outlines the current knowledge gaps in understanding the benefits, risks and feasibility of each intervention.

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T4: Current Practices

This technical document provides a summary of the current global knowledge of coral restoration methods and practises to date, and highlights common issues encountered as the field has evolved.

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T5: Future Deployment Scenarios and Costings

This technical document investigates possible delivery methods for the proposed Reef interventions, analysing cost and scale implications for each, and identifying potential synergies and efficiencies. It includes concept-level deployment calculations to guide research planning and investment, and cost-benefit assessment, providing insight into method development improvement opportunities.

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T6: Modelling Methods and Findings

This technical document presents the preliminary results of environmental and ecological modelling and analyses to understand the likely trajectories of coral condition on the Great Barrier Reef over time under climate change, with and without proposed RRAP interventions.

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T7: Decision Support Findings

This report discusses approaches for developing a decision-support system for RRAP, with a strong focus on adaptive pathways. RRAP has not decided on its specific decision-support needs because this is a broader and rapidly-evolving issue. RRAP is one of several programs contributing to the goal of a Reef decision-support system. Others include the Reef Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program (RIMReP), and Integrated Monitoring and Reporting of the Reef Trust Partnership, and the Integrated Pest Management system for crown-of-thorns starfish.

Discussions on how the broader decision-support system needs will be met were continuing at the time of the release of the RRAP reports and involve multiple stakeholders and research providers. Given this, the recommendations in this report are now obsolete. While they will inform decisions taken by the RRAP steering committee, they do not constitute program policy.

T9: Cost Benefit Analysis

This cost-benefit analysis applies structured decision-making to assess proposed interventions under different climate scenarios and in different combinations. It seeks to understand trade-offs, and facilitate optimised decisions and commitment to action, in the context of the current high degree of uncertainty inherent in RRAP.

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T10: Benefit Streams

This report describes how economic data were compiled and combined with estimates of coral condition from the modelling study (T6: Modelling Methods and Findings) to estimate current and future benefits of example interventions, under contrasting climate change scenarios, for use in T9: Cost-Benefit Analysis.

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T11: Automated Aquaculture Production and Deployment

This technical document provides engineering concepts for the systems necessary to grow and deploy new corals on the Reef, at scale. It builds on the knowledge and facilities of the AIMS’ SeaSim research facility.

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(Note: This Report is 17.7MB and may take time to view/download)

T12: Cool Water Injection

This technical document uses modelling to investigate cold-water injection (C1, C2) as a potential RRAP intervention, to cool reef waters and help prevent thermal stress, which can lead to coral bleaching. It focuses on Lizard Island as the most physically favourable of 20 reefs initially investigated.

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T13: Ultra-Thin Surface Films

This technical document uses eReefs modelling to investigate the potential benefits of proposed RRAP intervention ultra-thin surface films (C6), in the cooling and shading intervention group.

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T14: Environmental Modelling of Large-Scale Solar Radiation Management

This technical document presents the methods, analysis, and results of using modelling (weather, atmospheric, hydrodynamic, biogeochemical, bleaching, and atmospheric particle tracking) to investigate potential benefits of large-scale solar radiation management interventions, in the cooling and shading intervention group.

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(Note: This Report is 13.1MB and may take time to view/download)