Australian government pledges A$500m to protect Great Barrier Reef

A sum of A$500 million (£275 million) has been pledged by the Australian government to protect the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

The reef has lost 30% of its coral in recent years due to bleaching linked to rising sea temperatures and damage from crown-of-thorns starfish.

The funding will be used to reduce the runoff of agricultural pesticides and improve water quality.

Some of the money will be used to help farmers near the reef modify their practices.

Threats to the reef include “large amounts of sediment, nitrogen and pesticide run-off” as well as the crown-of-thorns starfish species, the country’s environment minister Josh Frydenberg said.

The reef can be seen from space and was listed as a world heritage site in 1981 by the United Nations cultural body Unesco.

The reef is a vast collection of thousands of smaller coral reefs stretching from the northern tip of Queensland to the state’s southern city of Bundaberg.

Conservationists welcomed the extra funding, but said the government needed to focus on climate change, the BBC reported.

“You cannot ‘preserve’ the Great Barrier Reef without cutting carbon emissions. That means no new coal, oil or gas,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific chief executive David Ritter said.

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