Great Barrier Reef
Recently, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has recommended that the Australia’s Great Barrier Reef should be added to a list of “in danger” World heritage sites.
Placement on the ‘‘in-danger list’’ is not considered a sanction.
Some nations have their sites added to gain international attention and help to save them.
Reason behind this Move:
- It was recommended to add to the list because of the impact of climate change.
- Despite Reef 2050, the coral reef ecosystem has suffered three major bleaching events since 2015 due to severe marine heatwaves.
- The Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan is the Australian and Queensland Government’s overarching framework for protecting and managing the Great Barrier Reef by 2050.
- When corals face stress by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae zooxanthellae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white. This phenomenon is called coral bleaching.
- Marine heatwave is an event of anomalous warm sea surface temperatures (SST) from several days to years.
Repercussions of adding Barrier reef to a list of “in danger World heritage sites”
- It prompted environmental groups to take aim at the Australian government’s reluctance to take stronger climate action.
- Australia, which is one of the world’s largest carbon emitters per capita, has remained reluctant to commit to stronger climate action and has cited jobs as a major reason to back the country’s fossil fuel industries.
- It has not updated its climate goals since 2015.
About Great Barrier Reef:
- It is the world’s most extensive and spectacular coral reef ecosystem composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.
- The reef is located in the Coral Sea (North-East Coast), off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
- It can be seen from outer space and is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms.
- This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps.
- They are made up of genetically identical organisms called polyps, which are tiny, soft-bodied organisms. At their base is a hard, protective limestone skeleton called a calicle, which forms the structure of coral reefs.
- These polyps have microscopic algae called zooxanthellae living within their tissues. The corals and algae have a mutualistic (symbiotic) relationship.
- It was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981.
Initiatives to Protect Corals:
A number of global initiatives are being taken to address the issues, like:
- International Coral Reef Initiative
- Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN)
- Global Coral Reef Alliance (GCRA)
- The Global Coral Reef R&D Accelerator Platform
- Similarly, the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), India has included the studies on coral reefs under the Coastal Zone Studies (CZS).
- In India, the Zoological Survey of India(ZSI), with help from Gujarat’s forest department, is attempting a process to restore coral reefs using “bio rock” or mineral accretion technology.
- National Coastal Mission Programme, to protect and sustain coral reefs in the country