Tuesday, June 16, 2015

UNESCO Puts Great Barrier Reef on "Probation"

Australia has eighteen months to report back to the World Heritage Committee on progress it has made protecting the Great Barrier Reef from significant threats to its health according to a Committee draft report.  Official Australian government reports on the reef complex say it is poor, having lost half of its live coral in the past thirty years and populations of reef dwelling animals such as sharks, dugongs and dolphins are declining.  Plans to build and enlarge coal ports for exporting coal to India and China have increased degredation of the reef ecosystem, the world's largest.  Plans to ban dumping  dredge spoil in the marine reserve have not yet come into force.  Twenty-one nations will gather in Bonn, Germany to discuss the status of the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage site and whether to list the reef as World Heritage in Danger, which would be a public relations disaster for Australia.  The reef generates nearly $6 billion each year in revenue from tourism and fishing