The United Nations World Heritage Committee has issued a report to the Australian government warning that if serious action is not taken to protect the Great Barrier Reef, it will be listed as a “threatened ecosystem” as soon as June of next year.
The concern stems mainly from the coastal development popping up near the reef, which poses a big threat as shipping ports begin to take over. Poor water quality is another growing problem. The federal government has put $200 million toward the “reef rescue program,” which it says will help limit and cut down on dangerous chemical exposure.
It appears there is a bit of back-and-forth between the Queensland government and federal government regarding the situation. The federal government wants to limit expansion of coal and gas developments that lead to dangerous shipping waste, while the Queensland government has accused the feds of risking economic development by working too closely with environmental organizations, thus neglecting the need for jobs and investment. It always boils down to money, doesn’t it? You would think naysayers would consider the economic advantage of tourism brought in by the reef, which brings in billions of dollars every year.
“The old parties are letting the mining companies treat the Great Barrier Reef as a dumping ground for dredge spoil and a shipping super highway and the world is watching and sending a clear warning that this is simply unacceptable,” said Greens Senator Larissa Waters. “The Queensland and federal governments now have a year to act on the World Heritage Committee’s recommendations to save the Great Barrier Reef from being added to the list of sites in danger.”
The warning was issued at this year’s UN meeting in Cambodia. If not enough action is taken, the reef will be placed on the “threatened ecosystem” list at next year’s meeting in June. More than 150 scientists have pledged to contribute to the cause, so we will have to wait and see how much can be done within a year.
Image CC licensed by Kyle Taylor: Great Barrier Reef