The Great Barrier Reef provides $6.4 billion AUD to Australia‘s economy every year — and the government just announced plans to protect that asset with what they say is the largest ever single investment in the reef. They’ll pour over $500 million AUD, or around $377 million, to save “the planet’s greatest living wonder.”
The Australian government is investing millions in the Great Barrier Reef to “protect thousands of jobs, improve water quality, tackle coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish and implement scientific reef restoration.” NPR reported just over 11 percent of this money will go to marine park and federal agencies, with $444 million AUD, or around $335 million, going to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
$40 million AUD of the money for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation will go towards reef health monitoring, $45 million AUD to other work including coastal clean-ups and community engagement like indigenous traditional knowledge, and $58 million AUD to fighting the starfish. $100 million AUD will go towards “harnessing the best science to implement reef restoration” as well as funding research supporting adaptation and resilience. $201 million AUD will go towards improving water quality, starting on land: with farming practices like lowered fertilizer use and “adopting new technologies and land management practices.”
The Great Barrier Reef is in trouble. It suffered from coral bleaching events in 2016 and 2017. Since 2016, around half of the reef has died, according to Forbes. The waters around the Reef warmed due to El Niño and climate change, and corals have perished.
Heat stress from global warming (right) killed 30% of corals in 8 months (left). In the north, 50% died. Then it happened again in 2017.
— Terry Hughes (@ProfTerryHughes) April 29, 2018
— Christopher Wright (@ChristopherWr11) April 29, 2018
Government that wants to put public money into coal mines and coal power plants announces Reef package for all the factors harming the reef other than the ocean warming that will kill it https://t.co/tcl1n0PrHn
— Tom Swann (@TOM_SWANN) April 29, 2018
Will the investment be enough to save the reef? Business Insider said experts have criticized the plans for their failure to address greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, seen as the root cause of the reef’s struggles.