Marine zoning revisited: How decades of zoning the Great Barrier Reef has evolved as an effective spatial planning approach for marine ecosystem-based management
For more than 40 years, marine zoning has played a key role while evolving as partof the adaptive management of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Marine Park. Thestatutory zoning plan provides the primary integrating component that prohibitsmany threatening activities and manages the impacts of allowed human activitiesand competing uses by means of various zones, special management areas andother spatial management tools.2. How zoning is applied, however, has changed considerably since the first zoningplan was finalized in 1981. Today, zoning is applied in combination with otherlayers of marine spatial planning; the effective combination of these managementtools provides the integrated approach, considered one of the best for managinga large marine protected area.3. The zoning plan provides the foundation for management of the GBR and is thefundamental component of the integrated marine spatial planning approach ensur-ing high levels of protection for significant areas of the GBR, while also allowingecologically sustainable use.4. The paper outlines the legal and managerial contexts of zoning, providing 38 les-sons that may be useful for marine zoning and ecosystem‐based management else-where. It outlines aspects of zoning that have worked well in the GBR Marine Parkand what has changed in the light of experience and changing contexts, and seeksto clarify various misconceptions about zoning and marine spatial planning.5. The integrated management approach in the GBR utilizes a variety of spatial plan-ning tools, which complement the underlying zoning; some of these comprisestatutory management layers (e.g. designated shipping areas, special managementareas, plans of management, fishery management arrangements, Traditional Owneragreements, defence training areas); other layers are non-statutory (e.g. site plans).6. This paper is written for planners, managers and decision‐makers considering the use ofzoning to achieve effective marine conservation, protection and ecologically sus-tainable use.