Turnbull Government pledges $500 for Great Barrier Reef restoration

30 April, 2018, 12:02 | Author: Kristi Owen
  • Great Barrier Reef to get to $500m to tackle pollution and breed more resilient coral

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said 500 million Australian dollars ($379 million) would be set aside to help the reef, an important ecosystem and a global treasure, after years of devastating damage from warming waters caused by climate change.

The Great Barrier Reef is a critical national asset, contributing $A6.4-billion (R60billion) a year to the economy.

A major outbreak of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish has been destroying areas of the world heritage listed reef, prompting a major cull in January. The opposition said the government could still fail to reach its target to reduce emissions 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

"It's not working, it's not achieving major water quality improvements", he told Reuters by telephone on Sunday.

Although some fear that much of the damage can not be undone, John Schubert, chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, believes that the government's attention gives the reef "real hope".

"We want to ensure the reef's future for the benefit of all Australians, particularly those whose livelihood depends on [it]", Turnbull said on Sunday.

Turnbull said part of the money would be used to mitigate the impact of climate change, but gave no details.

The funding was welcome, Australian Marine Conservation Society spokeswoman Imogen Zethoven said.


Bill McKibben, founder of global grassroots climate movement 350.org, said: "Science is well aware of what is killing the coral - it's the excess heat from burning fossil fuels".

Australian Conservation Foundation chief Kelly O'Shanassy agreed.

But she said no amount of money could bring back those northern reefs that were impacted by the 2016 and 2017 mass bleaching event.

The Great Barrier Reef is considered to be one of the seven natural wonders of the world and is the largest living structure on the planet.

The bulk of the new funding - just over A$200 million (RM590 million) - was earmarked to improve water quality by changing farming practices and adopting new technologies and land management.

But in recent years, it has lost almost a third of its coral due to bleaching linked to rising sea temperatures and damage from crown-of-thorns starfish.

The world's largest coral reef system has lost 30 percent of its coral due to bleaching, which is blamed on climate change and pollution.

Earlier this month, scientists said the site suffered a "catastrophic die-off" of coral during an extended heatwave in 2016, threatening a broader range of reef life than previously feared.

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