PHOTO: Great Barrier Reef. (Photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
On Thursday, Australia announced it will increase efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef after a new report suggests the survival of the site depends on the quick action of local authorities.
According to The Courier-Mail, the study was carried out by federal and state governments as a progress report for the Reef 2050 Plan and was sent to the UNESCO World Heritage Center. The findings indicate that climate change, the flow of farm chemicals and coastal sediment into the Pacific Ocean pose legitimate threats to the reef’s survival.
The progress report is part of an agreement with the Australian government in which UNESCO would not label the Great Barrier Reef as “in danger” if the country improves its protection of the natural wonder.
Unfortunately, the report—which comes just 18 months into a 35-year plan—reveals that efforts in key areas don’t meet the benchmarks set, and the job is only getting more difficult as the reef experienced its largest recorded bleaching and coral die-out over the last year.
“We may only be at the beginning of a 35-year marathon effort, but we have to quicken the pace,” Reef 2050 Advisory Committee chair Penelope Wensley told The Courier-Mail. “The bleaching event has given added urgency to our work.”
Federal and state environment ministers Josh Frydenberg and Steven Miles admitted that while there have been major strides made in some aspects of the preservation efforts, more focus needs to be placed on improving water quality and limiting sediment and farm chemical runoff.
“Some challenges arose in early implementation of water-quality actions over the past 18 months, including the Queensland Parliament’s rejection of laws designed to strengthen vegetation management, slow progress towards the water quality targets as demonstrated in the 2015 Reef Report Card, and non-compliance with Queensland Government regulation by the cane and grazing industries,” the report said.