Will our children’s children be able to enjoy nature at its most splendid state with the threats of climate change, industrial development and pollution? Recent report has revealed that nature’s marine theme park, the Great Barrier Reef, also known as the world’s largest coral reef system and the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms that can be seen from the outer space is at the brink of being endangered.
About 50 percent of the coral cover was lost when the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef was devastated by unparalleled storms during the first decade of this century. Similarly, climate change and pollution, tagged as the principal culprits in the worsening condition of the Great Barrier Reef, have contributed to coral bleaching and the thriving and breeding, in unmanageable number, of the reef’s biggest threat, the coral-eating “crown of thorns”. Adding to the disappointment of the environmentalists is the major expansion plans of the Australian government of the nearby Gladstone port to handle its increasing coal exports. Environmentalists said that the Reef needs two decades of normal weather to completely recover.
To solve the impending crisis, the Australian government initiated The Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan with a budget of $1.5 billion over the next 10 years. This plan which aims to improve water quality, cut the release of inorganic nitrogen from farmers, revive the natural wetlands, reduce the dredging of shipping lanes and ban the dumping of dredging spoil within the park, has the support from the people across the political spectrum, including indigenous groups, farmers, scientist and port authorities, in a statement by Steven Miles, State Environment Minister for Queensland.
In its endeavor to save the Reef, Queensland state government has pledged for an additional $75 million to be spent over five years fighting pollution while linking up with the help of local aboriginal communities. These communities have settled off the reef for 8,000 years, hence, in a statement of Duane Fraser, he observed that there were more tribal elders involved with the negotiations than there were members in the Australian parliament.
The Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund has initiated a campaign to have the southern end of the marine park listed as endangered by UNESCO. World Heritage Committee is due to make a preliminary decision on the status of the reef next month.