How to stop the US and UK from destroying coral reefs
It was only last week that an international scientific panel found that the coral reef is dying, and scientists are now warning of the possibility of irreversible damage to the world’s coral reefs.
The report came out in a week in which the US has announced plans to spend $7bn on a $15bn plan to restore a section of the Great Barrier Reef, while the UK announced plans for $9bn to build a new reef.
The US plans to rebuild a section that is currently the most vulnerable of the reef’s ecosystems, with only around 10 per cent of the coral living on the coral-lined reefs that make up half of the world marine park.
The reef, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has lost up to half its coral cover in the past 150 years.
The US has plans to restore its section of Great Barrier reef to its original state by 2027, and the UK has committed to restore 80 per cent.
It has also announced plans that could affect the future viability of the reefs, with its plan to build the new reef to be completed in 2030.
The impact on coral reefs around the world is profound.
Scientists are increasingly concerned about the potential for coral death from COVID-19.
In Australia, a study has shown that a reef loss could trigger a devastating coral bleaching event, and in parts of the US, a number of reefs are now losing at least 10 per-cent of their coral cover.
The Great Barrier coral reef in Australia has been severely damaged by the disease.
The UK has been a leader in coral restoration, and has already begun restoring parts of its Great Barrier Coral Reef.
But the UK’s plans are being criticised by conservation groups, who say they are putting at risk coral reefs already struggling under the strain of climate change.
In response to concerns over the UK plans, the UK Government released its own report, saying that the US plan to spend billions of dollars on rebuilding a section it has already lost, and will be damaged by climate change, was not realistic.
In a statement, a spokesman for the UK Ministry of Defence said: “The UK Government’s plans to repair or rebuild portions of the Reef at present are unrealistic and unsustainable.
We are committed to protecting our Great Barrier and our coral reefs for generations to come.”
The US plan, meanwhile, was criticised by scientists.
The UN Environment Programme said the UK plan would “damage the environment and cause irreversible damage” to coral reefs in the Caribbean.
The organisation’s head of climate, climate change and biodiversity, Jana Nelis, said: “These plans will have a huge impact on the health and future of the Coral Reef ecosystem and we believe they will also damage the health of the UK public and the environment.”
In Australia, where the Great Reef is the only protected part of the World Heritage list, the Great Coral Reef Conservancy is warning that coral recovery is already being affected by climate changes.
In response to the Great Corals report, the Conservation Minister, Greg Hunt, said the US plans were “unlikely to deliver on their promise to restore the reef”.
The UK’s plan will also not be able to protect the reefs that already have a coral cover of around 80 per- cent, and which are being heavily affected by COVID.
The UK has already announced plans it says could damage the reef, including the removal of a section in 2020, and a new section to be built at the end of the decade.
The Great Barrier is one of the last remaining protected areas in the world, and it is estimated that only around 20 per cent, if any, of its coral still exists.
It is one the world-famous, protected coral reefs, and is considered by many to be one of nature’s most beautiful and unique ecosystems.
This article originally appeared on TechCrunch.