UNESCO Meets Today To Decide Australia Great Barrier Reef Fate, Could Be Demoted To Endangered World Heritage Site
Australia is jittery today. On Wednesday, UNESCO is expected to announce its decision if it will demote the country’s famed Great Barrier Reef from a World Heritage Site to an endangered one.
UNESCO World Heritage delegates were in Australia on Monday. They dove into the crystal clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef and snorkeled for hours, inspecting the site for evidences of improvement, or the deterioration of it.
Peter Gash, managing director of the Lady Elliot Island Eco-Resort on the southern end of the reef, can only hope the site, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, will be able to keep its distinct title.
“I have no doubt that they (UNESCO delegates) had a perception that the barrier reef was dead. That it was doomed, it was down, it was in a bad place. And that’s not the case at all,” Gash told Reuters. “It’s my belief, and it’s the belief of many people, that the barrier reef has turned the corner and it’s slowly improving.”
But Reuters says the UNESCO World Heritage delegates found heavy damage on some of the corals. They also noted that a number of species like the dugong and large green turtles are threatened.
If Australia’s worst fears of the coral reef system become true, its trade in commodities and energy could dive because restrictions on shipping and port expansions could be recommended to save the Great Barrier Reef from further destruction. Greenpeace claimed over 50 percent of the coral cover of the reef had been destroyed in the last three decades.
UNESCO had said earlier this year its outlook for the reef was “poor.”
Felicity Wishart, Great Barrier Reef campaign director at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said much of the damage to the reef was detected done closer to the mainland.