Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised a further A$100 million ($78 million) in funds as part of a plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef and keep the World Heritage site from being listed as endangered.
The 35-year reef program is focused on improving water quality, the government said Saturday in a statement. Australia announced last week it will ban the dumping of dredging waste in the Barrier Reef marine park.
The report comes before the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Committee meets in June to consider whether the reef should be listed as “in danger.” Climate change, extreme weather and coastal development are among threats to the reef cited by UNESCO.
“If there was one bit of beautiful environment anywhere in the world that truly deserves World-Heritage listing, it’s this,” Abbott said in a press conference broadcast on Sky News. “We are making our position clear right around the world that this is a number-one priority of the Australian government.”
The government’s plan isn’t enough to protect the reef, according to a statement Saturday from Greenpeace. The government is allowing an expansion of the coal industry, and while climate change is the biggest threat to the reef, Australia’s plan is “almost silent” on the issue, the environmental group said.
The Queensland Resources Council, which represents the industry, said the government’s reef plan pushes “an already high regulatory bar even higher,” and the dredging restrictions will mean some port projects won’t proceed.’
The government also will set up an independent panel to advise on allocating the funds, according to the statement. Australia, which released the initial 2050 plan in September, had previously committed A$40 million to the reef trust.
The reef is home to more than 1,600 species of fish and is the largest living structure on the planet, according to the marine park authority. About 2 million tourists visit the Great Barrier Reef each year, according to the authority.
This article was written by James Paton from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.