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QLD_CP_OPINION_VOXIES_21SEP20

How the Reef scored in World Heritage report card

A NEW report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature has flagged the Great Barrier Reef as one of 83 World Heritage sites under threat from climate change.

According to the report released on Wednesday, ocean warming, acidification and extreme weather have contributed to "dramatic coral decline", and as a result marine populations have also waned.

Assessing sites the report grades environments on a sliding scale from "good" to "good with some concerns", "significant concern" and "critical".

A scuba diver explores coral gardens teaming with fish life on Saxon Reef, part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off the coast of Cairns in Far North Queensland. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
A scuba diver explores coral gardens teaming with fish life on Saxon Reef, part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park off the coast of Cairns in Far North Queensland. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE


The Great Barrier Reef was in the 7 per cent of sites listed in the "critical" category.

Douglas Shire councillor Abigail Noli, who has close ties to the Port Douglas tourism industry, said the report was a concern.

"(But) all hope is not lost," she said.

"There are parts of the Reef that are regenerating and of course we don't want to see these bleaching effects.

"There are a host of projects (to regenerate the Reef) but the big overarching enemy to the Reef is climate change and the government should be active in trying to counter the effect of climate change.

"We can't be ignorant to the fact that it is in pain and had been damaged."

Douglas Shire Councillor Abigail Noli.
Douglas Shire Councillor Abigail Noli.

Australian Marine Conservation Society Great Barrier Reef campaigner David Cazzulino said the IUCN report was the latest to paint a dire Reef outlook.

"And yet there is still no decisive action on climate change by the federal government. This is unforgivable," he said.

"Without a bold national climate change policy, we risk our World Heritage icons as well as being left behind as our biggest trading partners - Japan, South Korea and China - commit to net zero emissions by mid-century.

"There are thousands of livelihoods depending on a healthy Reef and our federal government must step up to ensure the future of this important industry for regional Queensland."

The IUCN World Heritage Outlook 3 builds on previous reports from 2014 and 2017 to determine if conservation of the world's 252 natural World Heritage sites is sufficient to protect them in the long term.

Originally published as How the Reef scored in World Heritage report card


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