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Great Barrier Reef: Australia must act urgently on water quality, says Unesco

Draft decision supposes Australia would not, at this rate, satisfy interim or long-term targets in the Reef 2050 report

Unesco has expressed serious concern about the impact of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef and advised Australia it will not meet the targets of the Reef 2050 report without considerable work to improve liquid quality.

The criticism was contained in a draft decision published as part of the agenda for the upcoming world heritage sites committee fulfill( pdf ), which will take place in Krakow, Poland, in the first 2 week of July.

It indicated the Great Barrier Reef should remain off the jeopardy roster, despite back-to-back coral bleaching occurrences affecting about two-thirds of the reef and the latest data presenting a sharp dropped in coral embrace in the northern part.

The draft decision also praised the Australian and Queensland governments for initial work done to implement the Reef 2050 project that included establishing a $1.28 bn investment strategy, most of which is due to be spent on improving liquid quality.

However, research reports replied progress on reducing the number of agricultural pollutants flowing into the reef had slowing down and Australia would not, at this rate, satisfy either its interim or long-term targets to improve liquid tone.

It strongly encouraged Australia to accelerate efforts to ensure convening the immediate and long-term objectives of the project, which are essential to the overall resilience of the property, in particularly regarding liquid quality.

It also said climate change remained the most significant overall menace to the future of the reef, and considered that the meetings of the committee express their deep concern at the coral bleaching and mortality that occurred in 2016 and during the second occurrence underway in early 2017.

While the long-term effects of these events cannot be fully evaluated yet, their scale serves to underline the severity of the threat to the property from climate change, Unesco replied. At the locate tier, there is a need to consider how these mass bleaching occurrences influence the effectiveness of the[ Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan] in its present form , notably in relation to the most urgently needed measures and improvements that contribute to the propertys resilience.

Meeting those liquid tone targets would require a ten-fold increase in investment to $10 bn over the next 10 years, the leading expert on liquid tone for the reef, Jon Brodie, said.

It would also involve transitioning farmland in the Great Barrier Reef catchment from carbohydrate cane plantations, which use fertilisers that make much of the water pollution in the reef, to a less high-intensity shape of agriculture, such as grazing.

Theres things that could be done for the liquid tone component but its hard to see this government doing them, Brodie told Guardian Australia. The federal government is unfortunately simply writing the Great Barrier Reef off. Other things are more important to them, like the support of farmers in Queensland, and the coal industry.

Brodie said improving liquid tone would not was not sufficient by itself to save the reef, which faces its more direct menace from climate change.

But unlike climate change, Brodie replied, the quality of liquid flowing into the reef is immediately under the restraint of existing Australian legislation. Improving liquid tone cannot prevent future bleaching occurrences, but it can improve the abilities of the reef to recover.

The environment minister, Josh Frydenberg, welcomed the Unesco draft decision on Saturday, which he replied corroborates the Reef 2050 project has been effective.

The draft decision points to the importance of the reefs resilience despite the challenges faced from coral bleaching, he said.

Frydenberg recognise the committees push for accelerated act on liquid tone and said international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas radiations was critical for reefs worldwide, including the Great Barrier Reef. He cited Australias continued commitment to the Paris agreement, which the US president, Donald Trump, vacated on Friday, as evidence of Australias efforts.

Unesco ought to be able to liberate two seconds report on the impact of climate change on the lives of all world heritage sites rostered reefs before the July meeting.

Richard Leck, oceans campaigner for the World Wildlife Fund, said that while the impacts of liquid tone and land clearing on the health of the reef were significant, climate change remained the major threat.

If the global climate warmed by 1.5 degrees, Leck replied, the Great Barrier Reef has not been able to live. We need to have climate policies that will actually safeguard the reef and currently our climate policies are nowhere near sufficient to get the action required to save the reef, he said.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society seconded that relate, and called on the Queensland government to immediately introduce land clearing laws, scrapped under the Newman government, to reduce the amount of runoff flowing into the reefs catchment.

The Palaszczuk government tried to reintroduce land-clearing laws in 2016 but failed to get them past parliament.

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