Aus welcomes UN call on Great Barrier Reef

2015-05-30 12:30

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Sydney - Australia welcomed a draft decision by the United Nations to keep the Great Barrier Reef off its endangered list on Saturday, but environmentalists warned of ongoing risks to the natural wonder.

Climate change, farming run-off and development have threatened the world's biggest coral reef ecosystem, stoking fears the World Heritage Site could be formally listed as "in danger".

But in a preliminary recommendation, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) saved Australia this embarrassment.

The Great Barrier Reef will remain under surveillance but not be listed as endangered, the draft recommendation to the UN's World Heritage Committee said.

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"The overall outlook is poor," the document said of the reef, citing climate change, poor water quality and the impact of coastal development as the major threats to its health.

"Key habitats, species and ecosystem processes in the central and southern inshore areas have continued to deteriorate from the cumulative effects of these impacts," it added.

But the draft also welcomed the Australian government's 35-year plan to protect the national icon and major tourism drawcard and called on it "to rigorously implement all of its commitments" under the so-called Reef 2050 Long-term Sustainability Plan. Australia must also submit a progress report by December 2016.

Read more on:    unesco  |  australia  |  marine life

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