UNESCO passes Barrier Reef care measures
THE international community has voiced ongoing concern for the future of the Great Barrier Reef as UNESCO pushes ahead with a deadline for the Australian government to commit to conservation measures.
At the start of June, UNESCO released a draft plan including 14 protective recommendations and warned the reef could be considered a World Heritage Site in danger as the result of a string of “threatening” nearby developments.
At a meeting in Russia on Thursday, June 28, UNESCO passed the draft recommendations with representatives from Switzerland, Colombia and India speaking about the importance of protecting the world’s largest coral reef.
Among the supported recommendations was “a view to consider, in the absence of substantial progress, the possible inscription of the property on a list of World Heritage sites in danger”.
UNESCO has called for a halt to developments with the potential to affect the reef until an overall strategic assessment of the area is complete.
“We are seeing this as a very strong signal from the international community who see this site as being under real threat from the reckless expansion of the coal industry,” says Greenpeace Australia spokesman Erland Howden.
Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman, has committed his government’s support to a federal Government strategic assessment of the reef, due for completion within 12 months.
UNESCO has requested Australia provide evidence of substantial progress to the world heritage committee by February 1 to avoid the “in danger” categorisation.
The draft UNESCO report points to a “range of unaddressed concerns” surrounding the approval and ongoing management of major liquefied natural gas plants at Curtis Island, off the Queensland Central Coast.
Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, says Australia has already turned a corner in recent years on management of the reef.