Great Barrier Reef in ‘poor’ health, admits Australia
As per the report released by the Environment Ministry of Australia, the conditions at the Great Barrier Reef were “poor” as it faces UNESCO threats to downgrade its heritage status over concerns about pollution and development.
What has been the major cause of decline in Great Barrier Reef’s health?
The report shows that the reef’s health has declined since 2009 due to cyclones and floods, despite progress on reducing agricultural runoff.
Despite decrease in nitrogen (by 7%); pesticides (by 15%); sediment (by 6%); and pollutants key to outbreaks of devastating crown-of-thorns starfish that prey on corals (by 13%), the reef is in trouble.
As per the report, intense flooding in 2010-2011 followed by powerful cyclone Yasi had badly damaged the world’s largest coral reef, degrading water quality and depleting overall cover by 15% and full recovery of the reef will take decades.
A study published in 2012 had revealed that coral cover had more than halved due to storms, predatory starfish outbreaks and bleaching linked to climate change over the past 27 years. Intense tropical cyclones were responsible for much of the damage, accounting for 48%, with the coral-feeding starfish linked to 42%.
It is noticeable that UNESCO has warned to downgrade the reef’s world heritage status to declare it at-risk in 2014 if there is no significant action on rampant coastal and resources development seen as a danger to its survival.