WWF-Australia says Australia’s progress report to UNESCO “is not accurate” when it claims that 90% of actions in the Reef 2050 rescue plan are completed, underway or on track.
“Australia is not on course with our most important measures to rescue the Reef and we must lift our game significantly,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.
For example, the report claims that all water quality actions, to reduce pollution flowing to the Reef, are ‘on track’.
However, the most recent Reef Report Card showed poor progress for most targets. For example Australia has committed to reduce nitrogen pollution by 50% by 2018.That deadline is fast approaching, and so far nitrogen has only been reduced by 18% and progress was given an E for Very Poor.
UNESCO has specifically asked Australia to demonstrate that there is sufficient investment to deliver Reef programs yet funding commitments fall well short of what is needed.
An independent assessment prepared by experts and scientists with credibility and depth of practical knowledge in the field advised that $8.2 billion was required in the next ten years to achieve the Reef pollution reduction targets but today’s report only recommends funding of around $600 million in the next five years .
Laws to control tree clearing in Reef catchments were rejected by the Queensland Parliament.
Australia is still not doing its fair share to tackle global warming, the greatest threat to the Reef. A fact made more poignant this week when scientists confirmed the largest die-off of corals ever recorded on the Great Barrier Reef, because of bleaching caused by global warming.
“This year we have had out-of-control tree clearing, continuing high polluting practices, and mass coral bleaching – to claim Australia is on track with its Reef commitments is sadly not accurate”
“The historic ban on the dumping of dredge spoil and the restriction on port development shows that big action can be taken to save the Reef,” said Mr O’Gorman.
Mark Symons, WWF-Australia Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571, firstname.lastname@example.org