Australia, Great Barrier Reefs

On Sunday, the Australian government has pledged 500 million Australian dollars (379 million US dollars) to preserve the Great Barrier Reef, which is being called as the most significant single investment made ever to help better protect the world heritage site. 

The administration of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be funding the project as a part of an ambitious conservation plan in partnership with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation to improve as well as monitor the health of the reef.

The reef has lost 30% of its coral in the recent years because of the climate change and ocean acidification. But now, the funding from Australia will be used to reduce the runoff coming in from the agricultural pesticides, to improve the quality of water, to combat predatory coral-eating starfish, increase public awareness and reef monitoring and will also be used to modify the surrounding businesses so that they do not cause damage and are more environmentally sound.

Josh Frydenberg, Australia’s environment, and energy minister said that the reef was under a lot of threat, but those challenges can be overcome with the right plan and the right investment.

However, some of the environmentalists fear that the action does not target the real issue, global warming.

The world’s largest coral reef, which covers 133,000 square miles, has gone through a lot of environmental stress in the recent years. As per a study, coral bleaching, caused due to warming water temperatures, has destroyed quite a few portions of the reef in 2016 and 2017.

According to Australian Institute of Marine Science, crown-of-thorns starfish, which eat the coral reef, has also been blamed for the decline of a significant portion of coral cover between the years 1985 and 2012.

Although some people fear that the damage caused cannot be overcome, chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, John Schubert believes that the Australian government’s attention to towards the reef gives it a ‘real hope.’   

Schubert said in a statement, “Today’s major investment brings real solutions within our grasp. These funds represent a unique opportunity to create a legacy of hope for future generations.”

Notably, the Great Barrier Reef, the most significant living structure on the planet, is considered to be among one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It can also be seen from the space. The Reef is estimated to be of $3.7 billion worth to the Australian economy through the tourism and fishing activities. 

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