The Australian government has pledged another $1 billion AUD ($700 million USD) to help save the Great Barrier Reef. The money will be spent over the course of nine years and will be used to improve the health of the Reef. This billion-dollar pledge comes after the Australian government stopped a UNESCO decision on downgrading the natural wonder’s World Heritage status.
Last July, UNESCO wanted to downgrade the Great Barrier Reef’s World Heritage status to “in danger.” This was because the coral reef has suffered a lot of damage from climate change. However, the Australian government was able to get enough support to block UNESCO.
Some people are critical and skeptical of the investment. Elections are coming up in Australia. Thus, some people are worried that the pledge is only meant to look good on paper. They’re worried that nothing will actually get done to help save the Great Barrier Reef. Right now, the biggest threat to this amazing ecosystem is rising ocean temperatures. The government has already said how the $700 million investment will be spent. So far, nothing about ocean temperatures has been said.
When asked about the investment, Prime Minister Scott Morrison had this to say: “We are backing the health of the reef and the economic future of tourism operators, hospitality providers and Queensland communities that are at the heart of the reef economy.”
The $700M Australian Investment By Category
First of all, over half of the money will be spent on working with Australian land managers along the coast. These land managers will help combat erosion, improve land conditions, and reduce runoff. $580 million AUD is set aside for this.
Next, the second-biggest chunk of the money will go towards the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). The GBRMPA manages the coral reef system. They’ll be working to lower threats from starfish. In addition to that, the GBRMPA will work on stopping illegal fishing. All in all, the GBRMPA will receive $253 million AUD.
Lastly, $93 million AUD will go to researchers. They’ll be studying how to make the Great Barrier Reef stronger and more adaptable.
The Great Barrier Reef Is Vulnerable to Many Different Threats
This investment might not directly go towards fixing ocean temperatures in Australia, but it will still help. The Great Barrier Reef has a lot of harmful things it has to protect itself from. Rising ocean temperatures are just the tip of the iceberg. According to ABC News, coral bleaching has also hurt the Reef. Two-thirds of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef has been hurt in this way.
Currently, groups like UNESCO are wondering what else Australia will do to help coral reefs. Their next World Heritage meeting is in June 2022. They’ll be bringing up the Great Barrier Reef again.