UNESCO Seriously Concerned Over The World’s Largest Coral Reef System Die-off

Posted: Jun 3 2017, 1:53pm CDT | by , Updated: Jun 3 2017, 1:57pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
UNESCO Seriously Concerned over the World’s Largest Coral Reef System’s Die-off
Credit: Evergreen

The World Heritage organization urges Australia to accelerate efforts to save Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world. Stretching 2300 kilometers alongside the coast off Queensland and comprising 2,900 individual reefs, the system is so enormous it can even be seen from space. But this iconic natural structure has experienced shocking amounts of bleaching in recent years.

Hundreds of miles of Great Barrier Reef’s north and middle sections are found to be dead due to multiple coral bleaching events and World Heritage organization UNESCO is voicing concern over this unprecedented killing. To ensure the stability of the system, Australian government outlined a 34-year long plan in 2015. Named Reef 2050, the plan sets clear long and short term targets for the health and management of the coral reef. But UNESCO’s draft report suggests that the progress towards achieving these targets has been slow and the country may fall short of its 2050 goals.

“While the long-term effects of these events cannot be fully evaluated yet, their scale serves to underline the severity of the threat to the property from climate change,” said UNESCO. “At the site level, there is a need to consider how these mass bleaching events influence the effectiveness of the (Long-Term Sustainability Plan) in its current form, notably in relation to the most urgently needed measures and improvements that contribute to the property’s resilience.”

Coral bleaching is caused by warm water temperatures. When water is too warm, coral expels the algae living in its tissues and turns it into completely white or colorless. Bleaching doesn't kill coral straight away. Coral has a chance to survive if temperatures drop. But if temperatures remain high, coral will eventually die alongside a number of unique marine species inside the system such as the large green turtle and the dugong.

A key part of the plan Reef 2050 is to improve the quality of water flowing into Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef receives the run-off from dozens of basins and increased use of pesticides and other pollutants on the land are affecting the water quality. By improving water quality, the pristine state of coral reef system can be preserved. So far, the country has not been able to achieve the results they really wanted. Therefore, UNESCO urges Australia to accelerate its efforts to save Great Barrier Reef.

“The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the implementation of the Plan will need to accelerate to ensure that the intermediate and long-term targets of 2050 LTSP (Long-Term Sustainability Plan) are being met, in particular regarding water quality. Report said.

Great Barrier Reef brings an estimated $3.7 billion annually to the Australian economy and around 275 million people are directly dependent on worldwide reef systems for livelihood and sustenance.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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