UN warns Australia over state of Great Barrier Reef
Australian officials have been urged by the United Nations to take substantial action to protect the Great Barrier Reef from rapid coastal development.
The UN’s environmental department UNESCO warned that if the imminent threat to the reef from industrial development was not dealt with and substantial progress made, it would consider listing the reef as a world heritage site “in danger”.
The reef’s outstanding universal value “is threatened and decisive action is required”, a UNESCO report stated.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef, with more than 3,000 individual reef systems and an abundance of marine life. It is one of the seven wonders of the natural world.
Australian organisations managing the reef have adopted high-quality practices, UNESCO said, but noted that “despite management successes there has been a continuing decline in the quality of some parts” of the reef.
Australia’s northeastern state of Queensland, where the reef is located, is one of the country’s fastest-developing regions. Key pressures on the reef include coastal development, ports and liquefied natural gas facilities, extreme weather, grounding of ships and poor water quality.
The UNESCO report specifically mentioned concerns over plans for liquefied natural gas facilities at Curtis Island and ongoing development of the key coal port of Gladstone.