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UNESCO threatens 'in danger' listing for Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef’s heritage status could be in jeopardy after UNESCO revealed it was considering listing the natural wonder as “in danger”, something that could potentially cripple the area’s tourism industry.

With increasingly milky waters and low-quality coral, areas of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are a shell of their former selves. Granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1981, the reef – which is home to more than 1,500 different species of fish – is overdeveloped, polluted and damaged by climate change, according to the heritage body.

Over the course of the last 30 years, the heritage site – made up of 600 islands and 3,000 coral reefs) has lost around 50 per cent of its coral. The region contributes around AU$6bn (US$4.6bn, €4.2bn, £3bn) to the Australian economy.

If the reef was listed as “in danger”, it would be a heavy blow to tourism for the area and the coastal communities which rely on the reef as a source of income. A draft decision by UNESCO proposes not to list the Great Barrier Reef as “in danger” immediately, but does put Australia on notice, requesting a progress report by 1 December 2016.

The government has pledged more than AU$2bn (US$1.5bn, €1.4bn, £1bn) to the reef over the next 10 years divided over four federal agencies, six state agencies and several major research programmes. The Queensland government has also pledged to forbid dredge spoil - the process of digging out sand, silt and rock from the sea floor to create deeper ports for ships - from being deposited in reef waters or on nearby wetlands, with the local government also recently announcing it would introduce laws limiting port development adjacent to the reef.

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The Great Barrier Reef’s heritage status could be in jeopardy after UNESCO revealed it was considering listing the natural wonder as “in danger”, something that could potentially cripple the area’s tourism industry. With increasingly milky waters and low-quality coral, areas of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are a shell of their former selves. Granted World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1981, the reef – which is home to more than 1,500
VAT,HAM,ECO
The reef – which is home to more than 1,500 different species of fish – is overdeveloped, polluted and damaged by climate change, according to UNESCO / Shutterstock.com
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