World Heritage in crisis – Australia failing to protect Great Barrier Reef

Posted on 17 June 2013  | 
Coral reef destroyed by Crown of thorn starfish or by coral bleaching.  Great Barrier Reef & Coral Sea, Australia.
Coral reef destroyed by Crown of thorn starfish or by coral bleaching. Great Barrier Reef & Coral Sea, Australia.
© Jürgen Freund / WWF-Canon Enlarge
Australia is failing to implement World Heritage Committee recommendations for the Great Barrier Reef, which could put its future World Heritage status at risk, according to a report released today.

On the eve of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Cambodia, the report shows there has been no improvement in managing the impacts of ports and port development along the Great Barrier Reef coast.

The World Heritage Committee has expressed ‘extreme concern’ about the impacts of rapid industrialisation on the world’s largest coral reef. It has given the Australian and Queensland governments until 2014 to implement key recommendations or face having the reef placed on the ‘World Heritage in Danger’ list.

“Australian and Queensland government action in the majority of areas recommended by the World Heritage Committee has stalled compared with four months ago, with rollbacks and lost momentum in key areas of concern,” said Richard Leck, Great Barrier Reef campaign director with WWF.

Today’s report also shows that a sustainability plan for the Reef is overdue, while the Queensland Government has removed several pieces of environmental protection legislation that impact the Reef.

Mr Leck will attend the World Heritage Committee meeting that begins on 16 June in Phnom Penh. He said Australia’s leaders had been given a prime opportunity to avoid becoming the only developed country unable to meet its World Heritage obligations.

“Australian governments now have a firm deadline for action to avoid the global icon being placed on an international list of shame. This will be a critical 12 months for ensuring the future of the world’s largest coral reef and the 6 billion AUD tourism industry that relies on it,” Mr Leck said.

“The eyes of the world will be on the Australian and Queensland governments and the decisions they make in the coming year,” he said.

Images and video available upon request.


WWF-Australia contacts:

Charles Stevens
Communications Officer
+61 424 649 689 or stevens@wwf.org.au

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