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World’s Largest Coral System, Great Barrier Reef may Figure in UNESCO’s ‘World Heritage in Danger’ List

It was due to the warming of sea water and an increase in its acidity through the increased presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

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Great Barrier Reef. Pixabay

Sydney, December 2, 2016: The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral system off the coast of Australia, is at a high risk of being included in Unesco’s ‘World Heritage in Danger’ list, an official said on Friday.

Queensland Minister for Environment and Heritage Steven Miles told ABC news that the latest case of coral bleaching has increased the likelihood that Unesco will include the Reef on its Red List.

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The current bleaching was the worst recorded on the Reef caused by record high water temperatures, Efe news reported.

The Australia government had sent the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation its Reef 2050 Plan, a document that outlines management measures for the next 35 years in those areas.

It was approved in 2015 to prevent the Great Barrier from being declared in danger.

The report noted that 32 of the 151 actions planned in the first five years were completed, focusing on managing the impact from ports and dredging, Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said in a statement.

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However, since then there was catastrophic bleaching event, as well as the Queensland’s Parliament failed to pass the land clearing laws.

“These two things together increased the risk there will be that level of attention,” Miles told ABC.

Bleaching has killed 67 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 and experts estimate that it would take at least 10 to 15 years for the coral in the northernmost, the most affected area, to recover.

The Australian World Wildlife Fund (WWF) questioned the progress made in the government’s report and denounced the failure to comply with measures to improve water quality, such as the regulation of land clearing.

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Th health of the Great Barrier Reef, home to hundreds of types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and some 4,000 types of molluscs, began deteriorating in the 1990s.

It was due to the warming of sea water and an increase in its acidity through the increased presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (IANS)

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Great Barrier Reef Faces Australian Floods Dirty Water

The water has not dispersed due to its size and a recent lack of wind.

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Australia, floods
The water has not dispersed due to its size and a recent lack of wind. Pixabay

Dirty water from a flood crisis in north Australia has spread to parts of the Great Barrier Reef, placing it under stress, scientists have said. The floods are the result of weeks of devastating rain in Queensland. Some regions experienced the equivalent of a year’s rainfall in 10 days.

Aerial pictures show that run-off from one river has blanketed some reef areas more than 60 kilometres from shore, the BBC reported on Friday.

The UN calls the Great Barrier Reef, located in the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland, the “most biodiverse” of all the World Heritage sites, and of “enormous scientific and intrinsic importance”.

Australia, flood
The floods are the result of weeks of devastating rain in Queensland. Pixabay

Scientists fear the sediment-laden waters may be blocking out light and effectively “smothering” coral.

In recent weeks, run-off from several rivers has coalesced to affect an approximately 600 kilometre stretch of the reef’s outer edges, scientists said. The water has not dispersed due to its size and a recent lack of wind.

The water has not dispersed due to its size and a recent lack of wind.The water has not dispersed due to its size and a recent lack of wind.

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Frederieke Kroon from the Australian Institute of Marine Science said the nutrient-rich water had also sparked algae growth in some areas, turning waters “a thick blanket of green”.

The reef is already facing threats to its survival such as coral bleaching caused by warmer sea temperatures. It has also been damaged by cyclones. (IANS)