Australia earmarks $128mn to bring reef protection plan ‘back on track

Sydney, Australia, Oct 21 (EFE).- Australia has approved extra cash to safeguard the Great Barrier Reef, a world heritage site in crisis that suffers severe climate change dangers.

“If we protect the reef, we protect our future. This new investment will bring forward actions that have been long overdue,” Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said in a statement on Friday.

“Under the previous government, the Reef 2050 Plan was allowed to drift off course. We are bringing it back on track,” Plibersek said.

A joint statement by Plibersek and Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef Nita Green said that the Albanese Government would deliver an additional AU$204 million ($128 million).

The measure is part of the shift in policy by the government, following through on Labor’s election commitment to make the environmental conservation and the preservation of the reef a priority.

The additional funding will support targeted blue carbon ecosystem restoration projects.

Mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrasses are critical in protecting the reef from runoff and provide important breeding and feeding habitats for marine life.

The money will finance plans to improve water quality, mitigate sediment runoff and replant new corals.

Some $20 million will help corals evolve more quickly and adapt to their changing environment.

“The additional funding will address critical gaps in the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan and speed-up Reef protection activities,” said the statement.

The Great Barrier Reef is on the verge of figuring on the endangered UNESCO World Heritage Sites list.

The reef was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981.

It suffered massive coral bleaching at the beginning of the year caused by warming ocean temperatures.

The previous bleaching occurred in 1998, 2002, 2016, 2017, and 2020.

In late 2020, the International Union for Conservation of Nature changed the Great Barrier Reef’s health rating from “significant concern” to “critical.”

Covering an area of 348,000 square kilometers, the Great Barrier Reef is home to over 1,500 species of fish, about 400 species of coral, 4,000 species of mollusk, and some 240 species of birds, plus a great diversity of sponges, anemones, marine worms, crustaceans, and other species.

It began to deteriorate in the 1990s due to the double impact of warming seawater and increased acidity by increasing CO2 in the atmosphere. EFE


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