Great Barrier Reef continues to struggle

ALEX CORBY

Reef in danger. Photo: Crikey.com.au

A new study has revealed that the clearing of land around the Great Barrier Reef is increasing, now significantly worst than previous years.

Acting Premier Jackie Trad released the Land Cover and Tree study that revealed that there has been a 46 per cent increase in land clearing since the last study was done for 2011-2012.

“The latest SLATS report confirms tree clearing is continuing at the unacceptable level of almost 300,000 hectares per year since the LNP gutted Labor’s responsible tree clearing laws in 2013. That is approximately 360,000 Rugby League football fields every single year,” Ms Trad said.

“Alarmingly, 108,000 hectares was cleared in Great Barrier Reef catchment areas in 2014-15. This represents more than a third of the vegetation cleared statewide and requires immediate action.”

Environment Minister Steven Miles said the continuing high level of land clearing threatens the Great Barrier Reef.

“These figures ram home how urgent it is that we reduce clearing right across Queensland, and especially the Great Barrier Reef catchments,” Minister Miles said.

“This vegetation is vital in reef catchments because it holds riverbanks together, meaning sediment isn’t flushed onto the Reef,”

“Sediment making its way to the reef, settles on the coral and suffocates it. It also clouds the water, reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the coral and both of these reduce the ability of the coral to be resilient to other threats.”

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The reef. Photo: The Conversation.com.

Experts are studying the health of coral, sea grasses and mangroves this month during a ReefBlitz stretching from Port Douglas to Moreton Bay.

Around 30 events are planned for Port Douglas, Cairns, Central Queensland and Moreton Bay where every observation uploaded in October will count towards creating the biggest snapshot of Reef health and life powered by citizen science.

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said she was excited about ReefBlitz being extended for the first time to south east Queensland and Moreton Bay.

“Moreton Bay has an important connection with the Great Barrier Reef, with migrating animals such as turtles and whales using the area as feeding grounds,” Ms Marsden said.

“Our proposed vegetation management laws are effective and balanced and will protect the Reef from this reckless clearing.”

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