Overview of the Great Barrier Reef

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1 Overview of the Great Barrier Reef

2 Lesson Goal 20/4/2015 To understand the current issues facing the Great Barrier Reef, including impacts to the reef as a result of human activity. To know the various stakeholders involved in this issue, how they have responded and how the reef is being managed.

3 Different views Lateline: Protectors of Great Barrier Reef cut (8mins) WWF Living Planet Report, The Great Barrier Reef (6mins) Queensland Government releases plan to save Great Barrier Reef (2mins)

4 Pre-test questions 1. In which state is the Great Barrier Reef? A. Victoria B. New South Wales C. Queensland 2. How long is the Great Barrier Reef? A. 230 kilometres B kilometres C kilometres 3. Is the Great Barrier Reef the largest living structure? A. Yes B. No C. The Great Barrier Reef is not a living structure

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7 Pre-test questions 4. What lifeforms can be found in the Great Barrier Reef? A. Kangaroos, koalas, wallabies B. Corals, fish and sharks C. Rosellas, cockatoos, kookaburras

8 Coral 600 different types Variety of shapes, sizes and colours Colonies of very small animals called coral polyps According to the 2013 Scientific Consensus Statement, coral cover on the whole GBR has declined by about 50% since 1985.

9 Hard coral Colonies of coral polyps produce limestone skeletons to support themselves. Hundreds, thousands or even millions of individual coral polyps living together as a colony. Six (or multiples of six) tentacles. Smooth appearance. Two main types: Brain coral Staghorn coral

10 Soft coral Flexible. Supported by tiny limestone spike-like structures called spicules. Swaying bodies. Jelly-like feel. Eight tentacles on each polyp. Feathery appearance. Brightly colours, pinks and mauves. Fish, prawns and sea slugs live in branches. Animals often camouflaged by having the identical colour pattern.

11 Reefs and islands

12 Pre-test questions 5. What human activities are impacting this coastal environment? A. Bike riding and urbanisation B. Snorkeling and dredging C. Four Wheel Driving and deforestation 6. What other factors do you think could impact the health of the Great Barrier Reef? 7. What do you think are some of the impacts?

13 Climate Change Long term challenges to the GBR dominated by climate change over the next few decades. Extent of damage will depend on change in the world s climate and on resilience of the GBR ecosystem. Warmer water temperatures and acidification are related to climate change and greenhouse gases. It is likely that climate change will also intensify cyclones. Main effects: coral bleaching due to prolonged elevated sea temperatures increasing acidity of seawater cyclones

14 Dredging Dredging is undertaken in coastal reef waters so that large coal, gas and other bulk carriers can access ports. Sand, clay and rock is dug up and then dumped in the reef s waters. When dumped at sea, dredge spoil can drift up to 80 km, clouding the reef s pristine waters. Main effects: Sensitive habitats are disturbed. Water quality is ruined. Seagrass beds and coral are covered.

15 Ports & Shipping Large ships travelling in narrow channels can hit the coast and get stuck Shen Neng 1 hit Douglas Shoal 10 km outside the shipping channel splitting 4 tonnes of heavy fuel oil. Expansion of ports and widening of shipping channels for coal and other exports requires substantial dredging of the harbours and will result in increased shipping. By 2020, as many as 7,500 ships could pass through the reef each year. Main effects: The silt from excavation is dumped into the ocean, polluting the reef. Damage coral and habitats. Pollute the water.

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17 Tourism and industry 2 million visitors each year. Snorkeling and scuba diving. Sport fishing, sailing and island day trips. Commercial fishing, aquaculture. Life-saving scientific research. Some effects: Outbreaks of Crown of Thorns starfish are natural, but their frequency has increased as a result of human influence, such as sediment and nutrients entering the water in runoff from the land. Impacts from fishing, illegal fishing and poaching.

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22 Pre-test questions 8. How do you think we could prevent these impacts? 9. Who controls how the Great Barrier Reef is managed? A. The Federal Government B. The State Government C. Neither D. Both 10. Do you know any organisations that might protest to save the Great Barrier Reef?

23 Management of the reef Overlapping State and Federal jurisdictions. Federal Government Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority independent Australian Government agency responsible for protection and management of the GBR Marine Park State Government (Queensland) Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park most of the islands Requires cooperative partnership, legislation and management between the Australian Government and the Queensland Government. Requires government relationships with commercial and recreational industries, research institutions and universities.

24 Management of the reef Queensland Government Federal Government natural resource management protecting the World Heritage values land use planning approval of development proposals islands coast surrounding land environmental impact assessment public consultation protects Outstanding Universal Value water quality, shipping management, sea dumping, fisheries management and environmental protection.

25 Venn diagram Name the two circles in the Venn Diagram: Federal Government Queensland Government List the distinct responsibilities of each government in their respective circle. Show where their responsibilities overlap in the middle section.

26 Key events 2011 UNESCO s World Heritage Committee expressed extreme concern over the approval of a number of major port projects alongside the reef. Dredging of Gladstone harbour, within World Heritage Area, commences Abbott Government approves dredging of Abbot Point terminal and dumping of three million cubic metres of dredge spoil in World Heritage Area Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), tasked with protecting Reef, issues permit for Abbot Point project. UNESCO s World Heritage Committee chooses to maintain the possibility of placing the reef on the List of World Heritage in Danger in Senate passes Australian Greens' motion calling on Abbott Government to revoke its approval of Abbot Point coal port expansion.

27 Key events 2014 Documents released under FOI reveal flawed modelling used to predict how far Abbot Point dredge spoil would travel. Abbott Government approves Australia s largest coalmine, to export through Reef. Strategic Assessment of Reef by Federal Government for UNESCO finds climate change "the most serious long-term risk" facing Reef. January 2015 During the election campaign, the Queensland Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk promises Labor will spend $100 million over five years to reduce damage to the Great Barrier Reef. March 2015 Current government releases Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan. June 2015 UNESCO s World Heritage Committee to decide whether to list Great Barrier Reef as World Heritage in danger.

28 Flow Chart In point form, list the key events relating to the Great Barrier Reef. Use the events listed in the powerpoint. You may also research some of your own if you would like to.

29 Liberal Media Release March 2015 Federal Government - Liberal Queensland Government - Labor Tony Abbott- Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk - Premier of Queensland Greg Hunt MP - Federal Minister for the Environment Steven Miles - Queensland Minister for the Environment Improving water quality by reducing dissolved inorganic nitrogen loads in priority areas. Reducing pesticide loads by at least 60% in priority areas by Improvement in the condition of natural wetlands and riparian vegetation by Populations of Australian dolphins, dugongs and turtle either stable or increasing by Further protect the Fitzroy Delta including North Curtis Island and Keppel Bay. Ended the 100 year practice of dumping capital dredge spoil. Banning capital dredge dumping in 99 percent of the World Heritage Area. Doubled efforts to tackle the growth in crown-of-thorns starfish. Extra protection for turtles and dugongs. (The expansion of the Abbot Point port near Bowen will still go ahead, allowing dredging to occur in the reef's waters. The dumping, however, is now proposed to take place on land next to the Caley Valley Wetlands.)

30 In response to this Media Release WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) It s good that the plan has reflected the commitments of the ALP and that those commitments are in the 2050 plan. The $100m for the reef trust is well short of the billions not millions that the science says is needed to turn the Great Barrier Reef around. Greenpeace The 2050 reef plan paid lip service to reef protection and did little to deal with the issue of climate change. Labor The Coalition s climate policies were woeful and said that the state Labor government had intervened to ensure the protection of the Great Barrier Reef was taken seriously. The Australian Greens Our Reef is under threat like never before, from massive dredging, dumping and shipping for coal and gas ports. Only the Greens have a plan to save it.

31 T Chart Labels the columns Factors & Impacts Government response List the factors and impacts you have learnt about in the first column. Look at the government s proposed plans from the Media Release summary. Do these plans respond to the issues? Look carefully at the wording used. Write the government s plans in the second column next to the issue they reflect. Consider the responses of the other stakeholders. Write these next to the issues they reflect.

32 Writing activity Write a letter to your local politician. The aim of your letter is to show your local politician that you are an informed and concerned citizen. You will show that you are aware of the current issues facing the Great Barrier Reef and how it is being managed or mismanaged. Include all points raised in your discussion.

33 Goal reflection Small group discussion Discuss the main issues facing the reef, including the following: a. Impacts to the reef as a result of human activity. b. Changes caused to the reef by these impacts. c. Various stakeholders involved and how they have responded to the issues. d. How the problems are being managed today.

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