The Great Barrier Reef is Threatened


SYDNEY – UNESCO on Saturday urged Australia to take urgent measures to protect the Great Barrier Reef boom of mining and gas, threatened to add to the list of sites “at risk” of heritage.

Australia has launched an unprecedented program of investment in the exploitation of energy resources to meet the growing demand in Asia, with a pipeline of 450 billion Australian dollars (435 billion).

The largest coral reef in the world is not yet sufficiently affected to be declared in danger, but Unesco estimates that the number and size of projects, including those relating to liquefied natural gas (LNG), tourism exploitaion and mining represent a real threat.

The decline in water quality and climate change are major issues but it is “essential to limit economic development that threatens the strength of the reef,” said UNESCO.

The committee has threatened to close the site “in danger” if some of the biggest projects were not abandoned, giving eight months in Australia to adopt a more sustainable development charter.

The Australian Minister for Environment Tony Burke acknowledged that the reef was exposed “to risks of climate change and the impact of coastal development” and that Canberra was “well aware”.

“Despite the complexity of these issues, we are determined to cope by taking a series of provisions on the coast and marine environment,” said Burke.

Campbell Newman, the Premier of Queensland, who is locally responsible for the barrier, reminded him that his region was living in coal mining and that there was no question of endangering the future Economic Queensland but it would protect the environment.

The environmentalists have called for an awareness of the Government, the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) whereas the risk of being pinned by Unesco would be a “national disgrace” for the country.

A UNESCO mission came in March estimate the impact of the proposed natural gas development on Curtis Island has found serious consequences for the environment of the boom “unprecedented” Mining Development.

The port of Gladstone, a hub for exporting coal to Japan, India, North Korea and China, has undertaken massive expansion work which according to environmentalists, destroys Navy life.

UNESCO has estimated that environmental measures taken by the Government in Gladstone and Curtis Island, with an LNG project for an annual production of 12 million tons, were clearly insufficient to protect the reef.

Mr. Burke acknowledged that there were “significant decisions” to be taken regarding the future of the reef, but noted that some projects concern UNESCO had been revised downward since their visit.

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