Great Sandy Biosphere Reserve

New_Biosphere2014lowres.jpgThe Great Sandy Biosphere is a very special place – designated in 2009 by UNESCO in recognition of the international importance of our region. The designation has no statutory or legislative power but promotes the idea that social, economic and cultural development and conservation of our precious natural environment are not mutually exclusive. It encourages communities to work, live and play in ways that support the sustainable use of our natural resources.

We live in an incredible eco-rich region brimming with unique and iconic natural assets. How we live today will determine whether future generations can enjoy the natural beauty and lifestyle we are blessed with. 

Our region is one of the fastest growing region’s in Australia. It is inevitable that an increasing population will bring with it attendant pressures on our natural resources.

The Great Sandy Biosphere seeks to understand the challenges we currently face and build understanding and cooperation between government, business and the wider community about ways to ensure that development is conducted in a sustainable and coordinated way.

Community awareness, environmental accreditation, sustainable tourism, improved land management practices and management of our marine resources are just some of the areas in which the Great Sandy Biosphere plays an important role.

BMRG is currently the sole patron of the Great Sandy Biosphere Reserve and administered the nomination process. The Great Sandy Biosphere belongs to everyone who lives, works and plays within the Reserve.

Expressions of interest are being sought to form a consortia to create a mechanism by which every involved party can play a role in progressing the aims of this important designation.

To find out more about the Great Sandy Biosphere or to become involved in creating a sustainable future for the Fraser Coast and the Great Sandy Strait, please visit

A Unique and Very Special Place

The Great Sandy Biosphere Reserve includes an array of natural wonders:

Every Biosphere area and programme around the world is special. In this region, unusually, there are two adjoining Biospheres - the Great Sandy Biosphere and its southern neighbour, the Noosa Biosphere.  

The Great Sandy Biosphere Reserve includes an array of natural wonders:

Natural environment

  • Unique natural environment in which the community lives and works and many millions visit
  • World and National Heritage listed areas, including National Parks
  • Fraser Island - Oldest and largest unconsolidated sand mass in the world
  • The world’s best observable example of ancient sand dunes
  • The largest and highest perched dune lakes in the world
  • Major transitory point for humpback whales on their annual southern migration
  • Declared Dugong sanctuary
  • RAMSAR wetlands – internationally declared feeding ground for migratory birds
  • The world’s tallest and most complex rainforests growing on sand
  • Almost half of all Australia’s bird species
  • Fringing coral reefs and more marine diversity than the entire Great Barrier Reef
  • Critical habitat for over 7000 recorded species of fauna and flora, many which are rare or endangered
  • Ancient species with unusual ways of breathing found nowhere else on the planet, such as the Mary River Turtle, the White Throated Snapping Turtle and the Queensland Lungfish.
  • Major breeding site for endangered marine turtles

Human environment

  • Historical architecture in Maryborough and Gympie with many buildings protected on National and State Registers for their heritage values
  • Strong regional population growth with an annual growth rate of 3%.
  • Growing environmental awareness

Profitable business activity

  • Internationally known tourism destinations, such as Fraser Island, Hervey Bay whale watching, the Fraser Coast and the beautiful Mary Valley region
  • Diverse agricultural base including sugar cane and other cropping, horticulture, dairying and grazing
  • Large areas of timber production including plantations of native hardwood and softwoods
  • Manufacturing firms in industries such as engineering, food processing and aviation

Strong cultural awareness

  • Significant indigenous archaeological sites – middens, burial sites, grinding stones
  • New residents from diverse ethnic backgrounds – European, Asian, African
  • Popular community celebrations such as Festival of Whales and the Mary River Festival.

Key Contact

Sheila Charlesworth
(07) 4181 2999  (ext 101)