One year to prove Great Barrier Reef can be protected

UNESCO has granted Australia one year to prove the Great Barrier Reef can be protected from further degradation.

The 12-month probation follows UNESCO’s warning it will strike the Reef of its World Heritage standing, which it has had since 1981.

The news was welcomed by Gareth Phillips, marine scientist and chief executive of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators, who said it will strengthen the relationship between Australia and UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee.

“I think it is a very positive result because it means there will be a joint monitoring team come out to the Great Barrier Reef,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Marine scientist Gareth Phillips.

“We know that climate change is an issue for coral reefs around the world, including the Great Barrier Reef, so let’s go have a look and have a chat and strengthen what we are already doing.”

International visitation is the lifeblood for reef-tour businesses, with revenue down between 70 per cent to 93 per cent while the international borders remain closed, according to Phillips.

The Federal Government was “blindsided” last month by the World Heritage Committee recommendation to list the Great Barrier Reef as “in danger”.

Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said there were “politics” behind the decision which “subverted a proper process”.

The Federal and Queensland governments will have to submit their first reports on the steps being taken to protect the reef by February 1 next year.