Great Barrier Reef Current Affairs - 2020

Australia’s Budj Bim Cultural Landscape included in UNESCO’s WHS

Australian Aboriginal site ‘Budj Bim Cultural Landscape’ in south-west Victoria has been added to UNESCOS’s World Heritage List. It was added to UNESCOS’s World Heritage List at a meeting in Baku, in Azerbaijan following a decades-long campaign by traditional owners.

About Budj Bim Cultural Landscape

The site is located within Country of the Gunditjmara, an Aboriginal nation in southwest of Australia.

It was created about 6,600 years ago by the Gunditjmara people. It is older than pyramids, Acropolis and Stonehenge.

Now being included in WHS it has become 1st site in Australia to receive world heritage protection only for its Aboriginal cultural importance.

It features remnants of nearly 300 round stone huts that are now only remaining permanent houses built by an indigenous community in Australia. These stone huts challenges common perception that all Aboriginal people were nomadic.

Geography: It includes Budj Bim Volcano and Lake Condah (or Tae Rak), as well as Kurtonitj (Indigenous Protected Area) component, characterized by wetland swamps, and Tyrendarra in south, which is an area of rocky ridges and large marshes.

Worlds’ oldest Freshwater Aquaculture Systems: Volcano Budj Bim lava flows, which connect these 3 components, have enabled Gunditjmara to develop one of the largest and oldest aquaculture networks in world.

Eel Harvesting: Being composed of dams, channels and weirs (low head dam), they are used to contain floodwaters and create basins so as to trap, store and harvest kooyang eel (Anguilla australis), which has provided native population with an economic and social base for 6 millennia.

It is the 20th site in Australia to make it to WHS list. It is 2nd site for Victoria alongside Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, which was listed in 2004.

Other Australian World Heritage Sites includes- Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Opera House and Kakadu national park.

Mass coral bleaching occurring in Great Barrier Reef for second year

Great Barrier Reef in Australia’s eastern coast is experiencing an unprecedented second straight year of mass coral bleaching. This is for the first time Great Barrier Reef has bleached two years in sequence.

Earlier in March and April 2016, 2,300-km reef suffered had its most severe bleaching on record due to warming sea temperatures. 

Key Facts
  • Coral Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.
  • The 2016 bleaching was more severe in the northern areas of the bio-diverse site. But now more bleaching was being observed in the central part of the reef, which earlier had escaped widespread severe bleaching.
  • The back-to-back occurrence of widespread bleaching is resulting in decrease in stress tolerance of these corals, which means that they may not fully recover.

About the Great Barrier Reef

It is the biggest coral reef system in the world composed of over 2,900 individual reefs. It was recorded as a World Heritage site in 1981. The reef is located in the Coral Sea, north east of Australia and covers an area of approximately 348,000 sq km. It is credited as the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms and is visible from the outer space.