19th July 2021
Great Barrier Reef
It is located offshore Queensland, Australia in the Coral Sea.
It was added to UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981.
It is the world’s most extensive coral reef ecosystem composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands.
It is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms.
It can be seen from outer space as well.
About the coral reefs:
The constituting unit of a coral reef is Coral polyps.
Polyps are genetically identical organisms, which are tiny and soft-bodied.
Their base is form of a hard, protective limestone skeleton called a calicle, which forms the basic structure of coral reefs.
The coral polyps have microscopic algae called zooxanthellae living within their tissue in a symbiotic relationship.
Why in the News?
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has recommended the inclusion of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to a list of “in danger” World heritage sites, as it lost half of its corals since 1995.
Significance of the move:
The sites are included in this list to gain extra international attention and effort to save these sites.
Why is this move and issue involved?
Despite the programme Reef 2050, the coral reef ecosystem has suffered three major bleaching events since 2015 due to severe marine heatwaves accorded to climate change.
Australia has opposed the move saying that global warming is responsible for the loss, while UNESCO experts said that the pollution run-off has contributed to the loss.
Impact of the move?
It prompted environmental groups to highlight the Australian government's reluctance to take stronger climate action.
Australia is one of the world's largest carbon emitters per capita and has shown reluctance to commit to stronger climate action and has cited jobs as a major reason to back the country's fossil fuel industries., furtherIt has not updated its climate goals since 2015.
What is Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan:
It is the Australian and Queensland Government’s overarching framework for protecting and managing the Great Barrier Reef by 2050.
Marine Heatwaves: It is an event of anomalous warm sea surface temperatures (SST) from several days to years.
Initiatives to Protect Corals:
International Coral reef initiatives
Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN)
Global Coral Reef Alliance (GCRA)
Inclusion of the studies on coral reefs under the Coastal Zone Studies (CZS).
Restoration of the Coral reefs using Biorock or mineral accretion technology by Zoological survey of India with help of Gujarat Forest department.
National Coastal Mission Programme which aims to protect and sustain coral reefs in the country.
Largest Coral Reef Area in World:
Indonesia caters to the largest coral reef area in the world.
India, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Chagos together have the maximum coral reefs in South Asia.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest aggregation of coral reefs.
Coral Reef Areas in India:
Gulf of Mannar
Andaman and Nicobar
Gulf of Kutch.