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Australia falls short in Great Barrier Reef efforts


PARIS: Despite warnings, Australia’s efforts to save the Great Barrier Reef still fall short of protecting the world’s largest coral reef system from pollution and climate change, experts said on Monday.

Australia had taken unprecedented steps towards the protection of the Great Barrier Reef, which the United Nations has designated a world heritage site, but more was needed to avoid the site being declared “in danger” by Unesco, the UN agency which compiles and manages a list of heritage sites.

Such a designation puts a government on notice that a site could be removed from the World Heritage list altogether, a very rare event. “Despite the unparalleled science and management efforts” made by Australia over recent years, the Great Barrier Reef is “significantly impacted by climate change factors”, Eleanor Carter at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Unesco representative Hans Thulstrup said in a report based on a mission to the Reef. “The resilience of the property to recover from climate change impacts is substantially compromised,” they said.

Carter and Thulstrup recommended that the reef should be added to the “World Heritage in Danger” list.

The Australian government in January announced a billion-dollar package to protect the reef, seven years after its “Reef 2050” plan, already a response to a UN downgrade threat.

The Climate Council pressure group said this latest package of funding was like putting “a Band-Aid on a broken leg”.

Monday’s report echoed that assessment, saying the reef’s ability to recover from climate change impacts was “substantially compromised”. — AFP

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