One of the most famous UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Great Barrier Reef, has been listed as endangered. Despite the numerous attempts of Australian officials to convince environmentalists and NGO’s that protecting the reef is their top priority, WWF and the Australian Marine Conservation Society announced that they feel not enough is done to protect it.
In June 2012, UNESCO urged Australia to protect the coral reef from gas and mining booms and the increased coastal development. They identified numerous liquefied natural gas, tourism and mining projects proposals, which could threaten the reef’s status. Low water quality and climate change have been identified as the main issues, and therefore all other pressures and developments should be brought to minimum.
Last Friday, however, the deadline to improve management and protection of the site expired.
The Australian Minister of Environment, Tony Burke, insisted that the government is committed and have made a substantial progress in addressing all recommendations.
The government has already invested Aus $200 million (US$208 million) in a “Reef Rescue” programme and is planning to add extra Aus $800,000 (US $ 200,000) to combat the destructive crown-of-thorns starfish, which is destroying the reef.
This, however, was not enough to convince WWF. The campaign director Richard Leck assessed the response of the government to the UNESCO Committee list of recommendations, and concluded that the site should be placed on the ‘List of World Heritage in Danger’, also known as ‘the list of shame’.
The impact that this will have on the Australian tourist industry and reputation is still to be assessed and seen. But the governmental officials are clear- they state that they will protect the environment and will not allow the economic future of Queensland to shut sown.