IUCN: Global warming threat to Great Barrier Reef ‘critical’

Sydney, Australia, Dec 3 (efe-epa).- The threat posed by the climate crisis to the survival of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has been upgraded from “significant concern” to “critical” for the first time.

This is according to a report, published Wednesday, from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature on the status of Unesco World Heritage sites.

“Among the 83 natural World Heritage sites now threatened by climate change is the Great Barrier Reef, where ocean warming, acidification and extreme weather have contributed to dramatic coral decline, and as a result decreasing populations of marine species,” the report read.

Bruno Oberle, IUCN Director-General, said: “The IUCN World Heritage Outlook 3 reveals the damage climate change is wreaking on natural World Heritage, from shrinking glaciers to coral bleaching to increasingly frequent and severe fires and droughts.

“As the international community defines new objectives to conserve biodiversity, this report signals the urgency with which we must tackle environmental challenges together at the planetary scale.”

The review, published every three years, said that unprecedented coral bleaching was observed in 2016, 2017 and 2020, causing coral loss in two-thirds of the Barrier Reef.

Deteriorating habitat has also prompted a decrease in the population flora and fauna, including a number of species of turtles, dolphins and sharks.

Urbanization of coastal areas and overfishing also threaten the corals of the Barrier Reef, which extends more than 2,300 kilometers and spans an area of 344,400 square kilometers.

The Great Barrier Reef has been listed by Unesco since 1981. It is home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 different mollusks.

According to the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, the Barrier Reef has lost half of its corals since 1995 because of global warming and acidification.

The IUCN said the climate crisis was deteriorating a number of World Heritage sites, including the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas of South Africa, the Pantanal in Brazil and Kluane Lake between Canada and the United States. EFE-EPA


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