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UNESCO Awards Australia Great Barrier Reef Reprieve

Site in danger deadline delayed
  Wikimedia Commons
Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef
Conservationists argue not enough is being done to protect the region

They've really put the government on notice that they need to lift their game."

— Richard Leck, WWF-Australia spokesman

At its recent annual meeting in Doha, UNESCO is giving Australia until February 1st to prove it is looking after the Great Barrier Reef. The Committee has recognised the work Australia has done to protect the tourism icon by not immediately listing it as a site in danger.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt says he's pleased with the decision, saying Australians could be proud of the hard work that was being done to protect the 2300km ecosystem. Conservationists argue that the country needs to immediately ban all commercial-scale dredging projects within the marine park area.
Not enough is being done to protect the region from the burden of business interests, particularly a planned coal port at Abbot Point, near the city of Bowen.

WWF-Australia spokesman Richard Leck says the committee is maintaining pressure on the country to improve protections and address threats posed by developments. "They've really put the government on notice that they need to lift their game," he said. “The first step must be to immediately ban the dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Dredging and dumping for new port developments pollutes Reef waters, and the majority of Australians want to see an end to this outdated practice,” he added

.The World Heritage Committee will decide at it's meeting in June 2015 whether to add the reef to its in danger list. Stretching 2,000 kilometers down the coast of the state of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef boasts the greatest biodiversity of any World Heritage Site.

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