This week, UNESCO gave the country another 12 months to improve the status of the reef, an additional year on top of what they already received, before placing it on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
The world’s largest coral reef system’s condition is in “serious decline”, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), who also expressed “concern” over the Federal Government’s go-ahead of the Abbot Point coal terminal. The expansion of the port near Bowen will see three million cubic metres of dredge dumped in waters 20km off the reef.
“They’ve really put the government on notice that they need to lift their game,” said WWF Australia spokesman Richard Leck.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt jumped to his department’s defence, claiming that Australia has taken drastic strides to protect the reef by pumping $180 million each year into reef-associated projects.
World Heritage Centre director Kishore Rao agreed with Hunt, claiming that Australia is making significant progress in the protection of the natural wonder.
The Doha meeting follows surprising comments made actor Leonardo DiCaprio who claimed to have witnessed firsthand the “environmental devastation” of the Great Barrier Reef.
“What once had looked like an endless underwater utopia is now riddled with bleached coral reefs and massive dead zones,” the Gatsby star told the Our Ocean Conference in Washington DC earlier this week.
One of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef contains an abundance of marine life and comprises of over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays, and hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with some of the worlds most beautiful beaches. It is larger than the Great Wall of China and the only living thing on earth visible from space.