Securing the future of the Great Barrier Reef

Hughes, Terry P., Day, John, and Brodie, Jon (2015) Securing the future of the Great Barrier Reef. Nature Climate Change, 5. pp. 508-511.

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Abstract

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR), the world's largest coral reef system, has lost half of its coral cover over the past 40 years. The latest five-yearly analysis of the condition of the GBR, released in August 2014, concluded that its condition is poor and deteriorating, and that reductions in all stressors are required to improve its state. The Australian government has correctly identified climate change as the greatest threat to the GBR, although ironically Australia is the world's largest exporter of seaborne fossil fuels, and also has the world's highest per capita emissions of greenhouse gases. So far, global warming has triggered two major bouts of coral bleaching on the GBR, in 1998 and 2002, causing extensive and widespread loss of corals, and there is growing concern for the future impacts of inevitable ocean acidification, extreme weather events and rising sea levels. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has expressed concern over the decline of the outstanding universal value of the GBR World Heritage Area (WHA), particularly from the rapid industrialization of the Queensland coastline and the development of ports for export of unprecedented amounts of fossil fuels. The World Heritage Committee is threatening to place the GBR on the World Heritage 'In Danger' list in 2015. Here we briefly outline why the GBR is in decline and provide recommendations for securing its future in the face of rapid climate change that are broadly applicable to coral reefs and many natural WHAs worldwide.

Item ID: 44440
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
ISSN: 1758-6798
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2016 03:32
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 100%
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