State of Conservation (SOC)
Great Barrier Reef (2001)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property
Total Amount Ap proved:0USD
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Road construction
- Expansion project of a holiday resort
- Proposed mine
- Need for more effective catchment management in lands adjacent to the Park
"Focused Recommendations" have been grouped under five priority action areas as outlined below:
- Management of Land and Coastal Catchments
- Management of Fisheries
- Management of Shipping and Ship Sourced Pollution
- Representative Marine Protected Areas
- Resources for Research and Management
Current conservation issues
In 1999, the Australian Committee for IUCN (ACIUCN) initiated a process for monitoring Australian sites that has now been applied to the Great Barrier Reef, Shark Bay and the Wet Tropics of Queensland. In the case of Great Barrier Reef, Focused Recommendations and a Framework for Management were adopted by the Committee and Australia has committed to submit a progress report on the implementation of priority actions to the twenty-sixth session of the Bureau in 2002. The Australian authorities have also agreed to work with ACIUCN to prepare a Framework for Management, based on Focussed Recommendations already discussed, for Shark Bay and the Wet Tropics of Queensland, as part of Periodic Reporting activities to be undertaken in the Asia Pacific Region during 2002/2003.
On 10 September 2001 the Australian Government released a scientific report addressing the effect of land use activities on water quality in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The report - Great Barrier Reef Catchment Water Quality Action Plan - recommends specific end-of-river pollution targets for 2011 for all 26 catchments adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef. The Plan was prepared by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) at the request of the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council and the Commonwealth Minister for Environment and Heritage. A scientific working group reviewed available data and existing national water quality guidelines, prioritised catchments according to the ecological risk presented to the Reef, and recommended minimum targets for pollutant loads that would halt the decline in water quality entering the reef. The Plan is available on the GBRMPA web site at: http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/
The Plan notes that over the last 150 years, the sediment load has increased by 300-900%, phosphate by 300 –1500%, total nitrogen by 200-400%, respectively and that pesticide residues are now detectable in sub-tidal sediments. For the 2001-2011 decade, the plan proposes the reduction of sediment by 38%, nitrogen by 39%, phosphorous by 47%, and chlorophyll by 30-60%, respectively. It is also proposed to reduce the detectable levels of heavy metals and pesticides.
The Plan recommends that the targets be incorporated into relevant plans under the National Action Plan for Salinity and Water Quality (NAP) and the Natural Heritage Trust. For catchments not covered under the NAP, the report recommends the State Government prepare, and submit to the Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Council, integrated catchment management plans that set out the action required to meet the water quality targets. The Plan suggests specific actions, notably a mix of regulatory and non-regulatory measures that need to be taken to improve the quality of water entering the World Heritage site including:
· Reforms to ensure that all environmentally significant activities in the catchments are subject to proper environmental impact assessment and approval processes and that conditions are attached to ensure activities are carried out in a manner that protects and improves water quality
· Promotion of ‘constraint mapping’ for current and future agricultural development
· Protection and rehabilitation of catchment areas at risk such as freshwater wetlands and riparian vegetation
· Establishment and enforcement of standards for sewage, wastewater and storm- water discharge from coastal developments to watercourses
· Promotion of environmental management plans for agricultural activities, which promote farming practices that minimise downstream impacts
· Promotion of full compliance to Industry Codes of Practice, and
· Initiation of public and catchment specific education programmes about the connectivity between land use and the impacts on the Reef.
WWF-Australia has estimated that the cost of a significant restoration programme to mitigate pollution and to clean up the waters flowing into the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) would be in excess of AU$300 million and has identified the following actions as key to success: (i) an immediate and permanent moratorium of land clearing in the GBR catchment; (ii) urgent legislative protection for coastal freshwater wetlands; (iii) all agricultural activities to be regulated under the Queensland Environment Protection Act 1994; (iv) fertiliser and pesticide use to be licensed; (v) legislative discharge limits for acid sulphate soil to be set; and (vi) a major GBR catchment riparian revegetation and wetland restoration programme to be designed and financed.
IUCN notes that the Great Barrier Reef Catchment Water Quality Action Plan initiative directly addresses one of the major issues raised in the ACIUCN report on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, relating to the need for more effective catchment management in lands adjacent to the Park.
Analysis and Conclusion
Link to the decision
Reports on the state of conservation of natural properties inscribed on the World Heritage List noted by the Committee
Great Barrier Reef (Australia)
Fraser Island (Australia)
The Sundarbans (Bangladesh)
Belovezhskaya Pushcha/Bialowieza Forest (Belarus/Poland)
Gros Morne National Park (Canada)
Nahanni National Park (Canada)
Los Katios National Park (Colombia)
Caves of the Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst (Hungary/Slovakia)
The Committee noted that the issues raised concern only the Slovak part of this transboundary site.
Sundarbans National Park (India)
The Delegate of India informed the Committee that there is no National Waterways Project that is planned or likely to impact this site.
Kaziranga National Park (India)
Komodo National Park (Indonesia)
Lorentz National Park (Indonesia)
The Observer of Indonesia thanked the Australian authorities for their financial assistance. He informed the Committee that it would be difficult to comply with the deadline of 1 February and that a report could be provided by the end of March 2002.
Aeolian Islands (Italy)
The Observer of Italy confirmed that there was a court decision on 4 December 2001, which is not yet public, but that it is hoped to be available soon. She informed the Committee that the collaboration between the autonomous regional Government and the central Government has commenced and that a meeting will take place to find a solution.
Banc d'Arguin National Park (Mauritania)
The Delegate of Egypt brought to the attention of the Committee the importance of protecting the wetlands, which are known to be important rest places for the migratory birds along their routes. He suggested that the World Heritage Centre should have a plan defining the wetlands, which are important for the birds and to use this information for establishing "satellite" World Heritage sites. IUCN informed of the co-operation between the World Heritage Centre and the Ramsar Convention as well as with Bird Life International for the protection of the wetlands. He also highlighted the importance of the surrounding areas to the World Heritage sites and the links with the Man and Biosphere programme for the protection of the sites. The Secretariat informed of the on-going discussions with the Secretariat of the Convention of Migratory Species to establish a Memorandum of Understanding between these two Conventions.
Gunung Mulu National Park (Malaysia)
Sian Ka'an (Mexico)
The Delegate of Mexico informed that the confirmation of the Ecological Land-Use Plan is in its final phase and consequently she asked that the deadline for the report requested by the Bureau be set for 15 May 2002 for examination at the twenty-sixth session of the Committee in June.
Royal Chitwan National Park (Nepal)
Western Caucasus (Russian Federation)
Golden Mountains of Altai (Russian Federation)
Doñana National Park (Spain)
Sinharaja Forest Reserve (Sri Lanka)
Ha Long Bay (Vietnam)
Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast (United Kingdom)
St Kilda (United Kingdom)
Serengeti National Park (United Republic of Tanzania)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (United States of America)
Canaima National Park (Venezuela)
The Bureau may wish to adopt the following:
“The Bureau commends the State Party on the release of the Water Quality Action Plan, setting targets for improvements and the recommended actions to achieve the targets. The Bureau urges the State Party to take immediate action to progress and implement the strategic actions to achieve the identified targets. The Bureau invites the State Party to consider legislative, regulatory or other tools directed at land use in the catchments in order to further strengthen the Action Plan. The Bureau recommends the State Party provide regular reports to the Committee on the implementation of the Water Quality Action Plan as well as the implementation of the Focused Recommendations and Framework for Management adopted for the site by the State Party and ACIUCN in 1999”
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The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).