Posts Tagged ‘Australian animals’

Unesco warns Australia over Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral structure and home to rich marine life

Unesco has threatened to list the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage in Danger site, amid controversy over a plan to dump dredged sediment.

Reef authorities granted permission for the dumping in January as part of a project to create one of the world’s biggest coal ports.

But scientists have warned that the sediment could smother or poison coral.

Unesco said given “significant threats” to the reef, it should be considered for inclusion on the danger list.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral structure, rich in marine life. It stretches for more than 2,600km (1,680 miles) along Australia’s eastern coast.

‘Other alternatives’
The dumping is part of a major development that would allow several companies to export coal reserves from the Galilee Basin area through the Abbot Point port.

Abbot Point lies south of Townsville on the Queensland coast.

Late last year, the government approved an application for the coal terminal to be expanded. The dredging is needed to allow ships into the port.

The approved disposal site for the dredged sediment is located approximately 25km (16 miles) east-north-east of the port, inside the marine park.

The disposal operation would be “subject to strict environmental conditions”, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said when it approved the plan.

But the plan remains highly controversial.

In its report, Unesco said that the Abbot Point dumping plan was “noted with concern”.

“Indeed, this was approved, despite an indication that less impacting disposal alternatives may exist,” the report pointed out.

More widely, it said that a long-term plan for sustainable development due to be completed by Australia by 2015 had to result in “concrete and consistent management measures sufficiently robust to ensure the overall conservation” of the reef.

In particular, it had to address major drivers of reef decline “such as water quality and climate change, and the need to constrain coastal development and associated activities”.

“Given the range of significant threats affecting the property and the conflicting information about the effectiveness of recent decisions and draft policies, significant concern remains regarding the long-term deterioration of key aspects of… [the reef] and the completion of work to tackle short- and long-term threats,” it said.

In the absence of “substantial progress”, Unesco should consider putting the reef on the endangered list at a summit to be held in 2015, the report said.

Australia’s Environment Minister Greg Hunt pointed out that the report highlighted progress in a number of areas, including water quality.

The approval of the Abbot Point development “was subject to rigorous environmental assessment”, he said in a statement.

Queensland’s Environment Minister Andrew Powell, meanwhile, said he was confident that ongoing work would mean the reef was not listed as endangered.

“We are committed to protecting the reef, we can continue to operate sensible, environmentally responsible ports adjacent to the reef,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation quoted him as saying.

Take a 3 minute break and enjoy some beautiful underwater pictures from the reefs around Australia.

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The Chuditch or Western Quoll

Every seen a creature like this before?

The western quoll (Dasyurus geoffroii) is also known as the chuditch (especially Western Australia, from Noongar djooditj[3]), atyelpe or chilpa (from Arrernte[4]), kuninka (from Western Desert language[5]) and western native cat. It is a medium-sized predator and has a white-spotted brown coat and a long tail like its eastern and northern relatives. It differs from the closely related eastern quoll in possessing a first toe on the hind foot and a darker tail. It is classed as a near-threatened Australian dasyuromorph, whose distribution is now confined to south-western Western Australia.

The Western Quoll used to be found over approximately 70% of mainland Australia, occurring in every State and Territory of the mainland. It is now only present in south-western Western Australia (WA).

The Western Quoll, roughly the size of a small domestic cat, is WA’s largest native carnivore. As a predator at the top of the food chain, the Western Quoll is dependant on, and a good indicator of, the abundance of its prey and the health of the ecosystem. This is affected by many factors including habitat alteration, bushfires, and disease. For instance, clearing of land or removal of suitable den logs can reduce the area that is suitable for Western Quolls to live in.

Other factors contributing to the decline of the Western Quoll are: predation by, and competition for food with, foxes, feral cats and raptors; being hit by motor vehicles; illegal shooting, poisoning and trapping; accidental drowning in water tanks; and entanglement in barbed wire fencing.

To ensure the future survival of this species, there are plans to establish a breeding program to increase numbers of Western Quolls, and to re-introduce the Western Quoll to areas where they once occurred.

Distribution Map

Distribution Map

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