Australia to pay for Great Barrier Reef restoration and protection

Australia to pay for Great Barrier Reef restoration and protection

Australia's government has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars toward protecting the Great Barrier Reef, in what's being called the largest single investment in the embattled ecosystem ever.

"The money will go towards improving water quality, working with farmers to prevent sediment, nitrogen and pesticide runoff into the reef", said Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg.

"Australia must make the transition from burning polluting coal to a 100 percent renewable powered future if we are to protect the future or the reef", she said in a statement (via 9News).

"But these are important initiatives, we continue to invest heavily recognising that all Australians have an investment, have an interest, have a stake in the future health of the Reef". Huge sections stretching hundreds of miles across have died over the past two years, killed by overheated and more acidic seawater caused by climate change.

The government will partner with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation in an agreement worth $444 million to mitigate the effects of climate change, reduce pollution, and deal with crown-of-thorns starfish, the coral-eating starfish that can munch their way through corals when they explode in numbers. "If the Turnbull government was serious about saving the reef, they would be willing to take on the industry responsible for the damage". The reef has lost a large percentage of its coral in recent decades due to a variety of environmental stresses.

Frydenberg also stressed the importance of the reef to the Australian economy.

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The bulk of the new funding - just over A$200 million (RM590 million) - was earmarked to improve water quality by changing farming practices and adopting new technologies and land management. The proposal also includes A$58 million ($43.8 million) to stem the spread of crown-of-thorn starfish, a poisonous coral-eating predator.

Doctor Alan Finkel says it's a welcome move - but some are questioning whether the government's announcement is too late.

The Australian Academy of Science was only slightly more supportive of the government's plan.

Unless the coral conservation plan is accompanied by a "strong policy, to slash our carbon pollution, stop the Adani coal mine and rapidly shift Australia to renewable energy, we will not see a future for the reef", said Imogen Zethoven of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, Australia's ABC News reports.

"We urge the government to address the cause of the problem".

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