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Great Barrier Reef in danger according to UN report

Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of the major drivers of international visitors.
Australia's Great Barrier Reef is one of the major drivers of international visitors. Darren Jew

THE State Government is convinced it will avoid the Great Barrier Reef being deemed under threat by United Nations' environmental arm after UNESCO raised concerns in a new report.

The group gave some praise to both the Queensland and Federal Government but warned that with up to 43 proposed developments along the coastline of the reef, UNESCO would still recommend the reef's status be listed as "in danger".

To avoid this, both levels of government must act before February 1 next year.

Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell said the LNP government was already reviewing Gladstone Harbour and putting together a ports strategy - two issues highlighted in the report.

It was already assessing the health of the reef through the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority with the Federal Government.

UNESCO named the $1 billion Balaclava Island coal terminal planned by Glencore-Xstrata 40km north of Gladstone along with the $1.2 billion Fitzroy Terminal near Port Alma as being of particular concern.

"The work we have under way - and it's acknowledged in the draft report - will be completed by the timeframes set by UNESCO," Mr Powell said.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard also said the improvements would be made, citing a $200 million commitment to Reef Rescue, a program that helps primary producers improve their water quality.

"It's about working with farmers in a way that increases their productivity but also decreases the amount of run-off that then goes into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef," she said.

World Wildlife Foundation Australia disagreed - it felt UNESCO had put Australia in the sin bin.

Spokesman Richard Leck referred to parts of the report in which UNESCO demanded no new port developments beyond already designated areas and that building along the coast of the reef be restricted.

Topics:  great barrier reef, unesco, united nations




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