What Australia is Doing to Protect the Great Barrier Reefs

04 Dec
2019

The Australian Government has set aside 500 million dollars to help protect the Great Barrier Reef. The money is to be spent on helping to reduce water pollution from agriculture, create community engagement, monitor the reef, and research climate adaptation. 

The Reef is incredibly vulnerable and in the past three years over half of its coral cover has been lost. Furthermore, global warming has caused coral bleaching and pollution has caused a deadly starfish outbreak. Future coastal development is also viewed as a threat to the beautiful reef system. 

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef system in the world and its future is unsure. However, Australia has been working to better manage this World Heritage site. The government has created The Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan, which is the framework for protecting the reef. So what exactly does the plan entail?

Funding will be provided to land managers and farmers, helping them to implement different techniques to decrease the amount of runoff to the Reef. The agricultural and coastal development runoff contributes to the starfish outbreak, which is a major issue. The starfish in question is the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish which lies on top of coral and wraps its stomach around the reefs. Instead of breaking pieces off the starfish actually digests the coral. While the creature is native to the reef when its numbers spike the results are devastating, as they will eat through enormous amounts of coral. The fish can eat its body diameter in a day so its killing reef at an alarming rate. The government has issued permits for control and culling operations to help combat the problem in specific areas. In addition, there are partnerships between marine tourism and managing agencies to reduce the further incidence of new outbreaks.

In Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait, the government has set aside over 5 million to create and deliver a Dugong and Turtle Protection Plan, which falls under the Reef 2050 Plan. It addresses the need for a long-term recovery plan for these species so that their survival is protected.

There is also a Water Quality Improvement Plan that is working to improve the quality of the water that flows into the Great Barrier Reef. Poor water quality is one of the largest factors contributing to the immense pressure that the Reef is experiencing. The plan details how community and government will work together to improve the water flow and correct pollution that takes place along the way. It’s working to identify water quality values and measure progress. Ideally, the Plan will help to build the Reef’s resilience, improve the ecosystem, and boost the health of surrounding communities.

While the Reef 2050 plan may seem ambitious, it is absolutely necessary if we’re going to stop the destruction taking place in the Great Barrier Reef. In Australia, all levels of government are working together to make actionable solutions to the issue. Agricultural departments are teaming up with construction, urban development, industry, and conservation to educate the public and bring government policy and programming that will promote a better, healthier ecosystem.

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