UNESCO given Barrier Reef protection report

UNESCO given Barrier Reef protection report

UNESCO given Barrier Reef protection report

Updated 1 February 2013, 14:35 AEST

The Federal Government has submitted a report to UNESCO, outlining actions it is taking to preserve and protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The Federal Government has submitted a report to UNESCO, outlining actions it is taking to preserve and protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The State Party Report addresses conservation issues such as the effects of climate change, trawling, coastal development, ports and shipping on the Great Barrier Reef.

The reef is classified as an area of "outstanding universal value".

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee had given the Government a February deadline to address recommendations it made after a monitoring visit to Queensland last year.

The UN body raised concerns about the effects on the reef of projects including the Curtis Island liquefied natural gas plant near Gladstone and the Abbot Point coal terminal near Bowen.

The report says the Government is committed to ensuring decisions it makes about development in the Great Barrier Reef region will preserve the integrity of its World Heritage Listing.

It says both the Federal and and Queensland governments are taking a cautious and measured approach to developments both inside and adjoining the reef.

The report states there are 43 proposals which are being assessed for their potential impact on the reef's world heritage values.

But Felicity Wishart from the Australian Marine Conservation Society says the Federal Government still needs to do more to protect the reef.

She says unless there is real change, the Great Barrier Reef's world heritage listing could be put in danger.

"The fact that a world heritage committee is worried means that all Australians should be worried," she said.

"It's our responsibility to protect the reef, it is an international icon it is one of the great natural wonders of the world.

"At the moment what we're seeing is this massive over development of dredging, dumping and shipping.

"There's no curb on that and we can't afford that."

The Federal Government says it has made progress in setting up an independent review of environmental management arrangements at the Port of Gladstone.

UNESCO asked the Government to commission an independent review into environmental concerns about developments in the Gladstone Harbour and on Curtis Island, and to determine what effects that has on the local community.

It is also meant to provide lessons learned from Gladstone for the development and operation of other ports in the Great Barrier Reef region.

The Government has today announced the chairwoman of the Australian National Commission for UNESCO, Anthea Tinney, will head the review.

The findings are due to be handed to the Government in June.