Australia: The Australian government has unveiled a plan to try to rescue the endangered Great Barrier Reef, pledging hundreds of millions of dollars in what would be the largest single investment for reef conservation and management in the country’s history.
Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said 500 million Australian dollars 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 money would be used to improve water quality, control a major predator, invest in coral restoration and enhance underwater monitoring.
The reef’s health and prospects are increasingly grim. Huge sections stretching hundreds of miles across have died over the last two years, killed by overheated and more acidic seawater caused by climate change.
This month, scientists declared that much of the damage was irreversible and said the only solution was a global one: reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the use of fossil fuels and get climate change under control.
The plan would set aside roughly AU$200 million for improving water quality, working with farmers to reduce fertilizer use, especially sugar farmers, who dominate the rich coastal lands of tropical northern Australia.
Money would also be set aside for fighting the crown-of-thorns starfish, which feeds on coral and has become an ever-present pest; for enhancing reef health monitoring and for community engagement and enforcement.