The UN’s World Heritage Committee has said the Australian reef should not be listed as “in danger”, but added that the country must submit a report with a long-term conservation plan by December next year to address environmental threats.
UNESCO issued a draft report saying that coastal development, pollution and climate change represent major threats to the Great Barrier Reef, whose status “has worsened since 2009 and is expected to further deteriorate in the future”.
For this reason, it said that even if the site will not be put on the ‘in danger list’, Australia has to come up with a 35-year plan for its conservation.
In recent years, the Australian government had put forward plans for coal expansion in Queensland, which caused concern among scientists, environmentalists and investors. Such plans have been reconsidered but the alert is still high.
Shani Tager, Greenpeace Australia Reef campaigner commented, “The Australian government can’t talk about protecting the Reef while aggressively supporting the licensing of mega-mine and expansion of coal ports along the Great Barrier Reef coast.
“This decision has been described by some as a reprieve for the Reef. It is not a reprieve – it is a big, red flag from UNESCO. Preeminent Reef scientists have said we can either have coal expansion or a healthy Reef, but we can’t have both.”
He added, “The Australian people have made it clear they want Reef protection not more coal. UNESCO has now also sent a clear signal that the Abbott government must fully protect the Great Barrier Reef and that means a reprieve from coal expansion.”
Photo: eutrophication&hypoxia via Flickr
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