Managing The Great Barrier Reef
Managing The Great Barrier Reef
World's largest living structure.
Barrier extending over 2000km.
Area: 343,800km2 (size of Germany)
2,900 separate reefs
1981 World Heritage list
During 2007, reef tourism generated AUS $5B, compared with AUS $140M by the long-established fishing industry.
Most used marine park in world.
1500 fish spp; 400 coral; 4000 molluscs
Reserve for endangered spp.
Key nesting ground for turtles.
70 indigenous groups with connections to reef; they witnessed growth as post-LGM sea levels rise; many livelihoods depend on reef
5. Responses :
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (1975)
- responsible for management and development of reef.
Adhere to Agenda 21 philosophy: using and managing resources as to not devalue or destroy for future generations.
Designated 'general use' areas: commercial and recreational fishing, boating, spearfishing, trawling. With permit-based: camping, collecting, research, tourism facilities, traditional hunting.
To scientific and preservation zones that only allow permitted research.
Aims: ensure permanent conservation of area; provide protection for selected spp. and ecosystems; separate conflicting activities; preserve some untouched areas; allow human use of reef, while at the same time, protecting.
Interesting principles: that traditional and customary users of the managed area should be consulted and involved in the development and implementation of the plans
that traditional law and management practices should be incorporated to the greatest possible extent.
2017 - Australia draft plans to reduce
by 40% the amount of its marine parks (increased in 2011?) that are “no-take” fishing or construction zones
Need to address climate change - integrated management
The Australian government has committed to reductions in carbon emissions that aren’t even consistent with limiting warming to 2C (key coral bleaching benchmark)
Expansion of coal industry: - Continued subsidy of coal industry
Achieving net zero emissions by 2050 is needed to keep warming to well below 2°C.
The Queensland Government recommitted to giving Adani
a $320 million ‘royalty holiday’ to entice the company to build the Carmichael coal mine, after it had announced the project was in doubt (May, 2017).
Australia - largest exporter of coal in world
Carmichael Coal Mine
At full scale production, 60 mill T of coal /year
CO2 footprint larger than NY and Tokyo.
Despite funding withdrawals, backed by federal and state govt. to come to fruition.
An opportunity for Australia to combat international climate change impacts.
Addressing water pollution (integrated management)
Key issue for Great Barrier Reef
Reef resilience will assist their bounce-back from bleaching - Seychelles 60% recovery from 90% deaths in 1998 > resilient areas were not subjected to the compounding pressures of water pollution, overfishing
August 2016 - a bill to prevent land clearing (clearing increases erosion and emits carbon) fails to pass Queensland state parliament.
The Reef 2050 Plan (2015)
Response to UNESCOs threat of listing GBR as 'in danger'.
Conceded climate change as biggest threat to reef > but, little action in plan to kerb this.
Banning dredge from new coal port into GBR Marine Park.
$100 into improving water quality - reductions in sediment and pesticides.
Chief of GBR MP Authority admitted climate change should have featured more in plan.
Pressures are the anthropogenic factors inducing environmental change
Agriculture > 77,000T nitrogen, 11,000T phosphorus, 15 million T sediments eroded
Fertilisers > eutrophication > seaweed > competition for sunlight > structural change to reef > coral disadvantaged
Herbicides kill algae/symbiotic relationship
Climate change > warming water > coral polyp stressed > spits out algae > algae provides 90% energy of polyp.
Interplay of La Nina events
A 2C rise in global surface temperatures will result in the loss of more than 95% of coral around the world (UN Climate change report).
Population lose seafood source
Coastal buffer protection lost (difficult to value services)
Reef tourism creates 69,000 jobs
Reef destruction impacting commercial fishing, tourism (2 million visitors; $6bn to economy)
Bleaching > coral depth > seaweed colonises > habitat lost (upper 1/3 of 2300km reef = 1/2 coral estimated dead); overall, 22% coral deaths
Complex ecosystem imbalance; lost primary producers
Driving Forces are the changes in the social, economic and institutional system that directly and indirectly trigger pressures on the environmental state
Population and food supply
Economic development and industry
Population, human development, consumption