Australia to Spend 500M AUD to Save the Great Barrier Reef

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The Australian government has recently announced that it is planning to spend 500 million Australian dollars (equivalent of US$379 million) for the protection and restoration of the Great Barrier Reef. 

Environmental activists however say that the investment is still very little to protect the natural wonder given the rapidity of ocean acidification and climate change.

The investment comes in the wake of a recent study published in Nature earlier this month that as much as third of the reef was killed in 2016 due to underwater heat waves. Many scientists are also of the belief that a mass-die of the reef is unavoidable unless people work together to stem the effects of global warming and climate change.

The recent pledging of the funds seem to be the single largest investment in the reef conversation in Australia’s history. The reef is considered a global treasure for ecologists and an important ecosystem which has been prone to devastating damage due to the warming of ocean waters caused by climate change.

“We’ll be improving the monitoring of the reef’s health and the measurement of its impacts,” Mr. Frydenberg, Australia’s minister for Environment and Energy, said from the city of Cairns, a popular jumping-off point for reef tourism. “The more we understand about the reef, the better we can protect it.”

He further added that the part of the money would be used to improve the water quality in the area and control the spread of invasive species like the crown of thorns starfish – which is a major predator – together with investments for restoration of the corals and monitor underwater enhancements.

The recent Paris climate agreement suggested that no more than 2 degrees Celsius increase of temperature in the area to ensure that the reef will survive for at least next 50 years. But the same looks like some unachievable goal in view of the human impact on the reef. Community engagement and enforcement, growing strong corals in the laboratories, and, avoiding the shipping of coal in large quantities near the reef are also some suggested methods to tackle with the problem of reef bleaching.

James Cook University coral reef studies director Terry P. Hughes told the New York Times “the reef is changing faster than anyone thought it would… we’re in unchartered territory,”. “Where we end up depends completely on how well or how badly we deal with climate change.”