The Great Barrier Reef sited at the Australia’s east coast is considered as a wonder creation of nature. The Reef is extent up to 300,000 square kilometers forming a beautiful coral island can be visible from Earth’s surface. The Reef has both natural and economic importance for Australian and for the world as well. Therefore, protection of this natural beauty is the national responsibility. The Reef is endangered with human activity that leads to pollution and destroy lives of coral. With this, there is a threat to destruction of the only living organic island. In a step to protect Great Barrier Reef Conservationists in Queensland, ban the river mining.
Obsolete and inefficient method used for mining in north Queensland goes completely against the protection policy for Great Barrier Reef. Queensland is the only region left in Australia that allows extraction of tin, gold and silver with Instream mining method. In the method, fine sediments are released harming a major part of reef’s catchments. Viewing this, Anthony Lynham, mines minister of the state has recently disallowed mining activities that have potential impact on the Reef. The potential dumping of sediments from these activities are computed as 22,000 tons in just one year (thehindu.com 2017). Conservation reserve director, Tim Hughes also supports this initiative of the mine minister. The primary factor for inefficient mining method in this South Australian State is its location disadvantage. It is still considered as a very remote place and thus is often ignored. However, now attention is also given to this state.
In a report published by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), states there are more or less 22 mines responsible for destroying the reef and put a threat to the 30 or more species living there. These mines have coverage of 700 hectares in Normanby basin. ACF holds the view that ceasing of inefficient mining should be outlawed long before (theconversation.com 2017). Queensland state government should now ban such things. However, possible risk to the reef remains as many such mines have still approval for executing this kind of mining practice. Currently the numbers of approved mines are 18. Most of them are operating since 1984 and seven joined them in between 2010 and 2012. Opposition has come from the applicants’ side as well. John Withers, willing to continue its operation claimed that in the practice there are good money and rejects the argument of sediment released into the reef water.
Environmental effect on Great Barrier Reef
Climate change is the most significant environmental threat for Great Barrier Reef. The Reef and other habitats living there are highly exposed to change in climate and may even have a longer impact than that is expected. The complex structure of the coral reef is made of Calcium Carbonate of skeletons constituted by the hard corals (Hughes, Day and Brodie 2015). The structure is subject to destruction with increasing sea temperature, acidification in oceans and other extreme events of weather.
Temperature of seawater above normal temperature results in coral bleaching that may harm hard corals (Petus et al. 2016). With this, coral bleaching will become more frequent event and will have a more severe impact. Some specific form of coral as staghorn coral are more vulnerable to beaching. In the event, fleshy seaweeds will be benefitted those are in competition with corals in Reef.
In the Reef skeleton of organism like coralline algae is formed by the process is called calcification. With increasing acidic substance, the process of calcification is disturbed and this weakens the skeletons of creatures in the reef (Day and Dobbs 2013). This ultimate result will be loss of corals and disappearance of reef’s structure.
Economic Impact of Great Barrier Reef
The main economic contribution of Great Barrier Reef is to the tourism industry. It attracts million of tourists every year in Australia for visiting the only living island in the world. With this, tourism has become a major earning sector for North Australia. All the parks in the nearby region permit tourism to this site and there are 500 commercial vessels, further easing tourism (australia.gov.au 2017). Tourism in the region generates nearly 2 billion $AU every year. Deloitte report recorded people willingness to pay for this site as $67.60 per person.
In addition to economic valuation, the reef provides services to the eco system. Coral reef gives erosion and storm protection to the northern part of Australia. The nurseries made with 25% of existing marine animals also attract visitors (theguardian.com 2017). The marine animals themselves have distinct commercial value.
The environmental and economic value of Great Barrier Reefs is of great importance. Therefore, protection and conservation needs to give priority. The concerned authority has already initiated steps. Corrective measures are taken under Coastal Wetland Protection Program (Piggott-McKellar and McNamara 2017). More concerns are needed in this direction. Pollution free ocean water is the primary need. Water should be used efficiently so that less wastewater mixes with ocean. Reduction in the use of fossils fuel is required to save coral reef. The smoke emitted from the burning fuel causes high bleaching and destruction. Using public transport, travel by walking in the nearby region is some way out. Waste management so that he ocean water remains pollution free should also be considered under the conservation scheme. Business that does not harm the reef should be encouraged. Discussion should be arranged with boating, fishing, aquarium, dive, hotel or other related organization for the right choice of business.
The paper analyzes the importance of Great Barrier Reef for the Australian economy and for the world as well. The reef has great economic value in Australia because of its significant contribution to the tourism industry and ear millions of Australian dollars. However, because of human activities and environmental effect existence of the reef is endangered. In order to address this issue mines minister recently rejected two mining application in the Springvale station. Directors of ACF also support the decision. The initiatives are expected to make success in conservation of the reef
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Hughes, T.P., Day, J.C. and Brodie, J., 2015. Securing the future of the Great Barrier Reef. Nature Climate Change, 5(6), p.508.
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