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‘Big win’: Great Barrier Reef avoids UN ‘in danger’ list despite mass bleaching

Fergus Hunter reports in the Brisbane Times (6.7.17) on the decision of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee to not place the Great Barrier Reef on its list of sites ‘in danger’, with the Committee stating that it still had concerns about water quality targets and land clearing laws in Queensland.

‘The Great Barrier Reef has again avoided being listed as “in danger” by the United Nations’ World Heritage Committee, a decision Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg declared a success for Australia and the Turnbull government.

‘Announcing its decision overnight, the UNESCO committee welcomed Australia’s progress in conserving the world’s largest reef, but noted “with serious concern” the mass bleaching events that have taken place two years in a row.

‘It said Australia must boost its efforts to safeguard the reef if longer-term targets were to be met.

‘”The World Heritage Committee … strongly encourages [Australia] to accelerate efforts to ensure meeting intermediate and long-term targets of the plan, which are essential to the overall resilience of the property, in particular regarding water quality,” the organisation said.

‘After a concerted lobbying effort by the government in 2015, the reef narrowly avoided being designated “in danger”. A condition of the decision was a progress report being submitted by the end of 2016. Mass bleaching events have heightened the risk of the reef going on the “in danger” list.’

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