Coastal conflicts great barrier reef


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Coastal conflicts great barrier reef

  1. 1. Case Study: Great Barrier Reef, Australia Aims: What are the economic benefits and environmental costs of coastal development around the Great Barrier Reef? • What are the issues of development? • Environmental impact assessment • Cost/ Benefit Analysis • Conflict Matrix
  2. 2. The location of the Great Barrier Reef Coral reefs are warm, clear, shallow ocean habitats that are rich in life. The reef's massive structure is formed from coral polyps, tiny animals that live in colonies; when coral polyps die, they leave behind a hard, stony, branching structure made of limestone. The coral provides shelter for many animals in this complex habitat
  3. 3. What pressures are there on coral reefs? http://www.youtu GjrkoX1Ab-w
  4. 4. Pressure from Climate Change Cases of coral bleaching observed. Notice that the regions of the oceans that have higher temperatures have the most cases of coral bleaching Green = no bleaching Grey = severity unknown Blue = low bleaching Yellow = medium Red = high 5iA • Coral bleaching is caused by climate change. This is an effect of human pressure on the natural environment
  5. 5. The Value of The Great Barrier Reef The reef contains: • 1,500 species of fish • 411 types of hard coral • one-third of the world’s soft corals • 134 species of sharks and rays • six of the world’s seven species of threatened marine turtles • more than 30 species of marine mammals, including the vulnerable dugong. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) stretches 2,300 kilometres along the Queensland coast and includes over 2,900 reefs, and around 940 islands and cays. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is 345,000 square kilometres in size, five times the size of Tasmania or larger that the United Kingdom and Ireland combined! The GBR is listed under all four natural World Heritage criteria for its outstanding universal value.
  6. 6. What are the threats to The Great Barrier Reef • Coral bleaching The reef has already experienced two mass coral bleaching events – in 1998 and 2002. Bleaching was more severe in 2002, when aerial surveys showed that almost 60% of reefs experienced bleaching of some degree. • Pollution Sediment, nutrient and pesticide pollution from catchment run-off is also affecting the health and resilience of the reef ecosystem. The amount of sediment flowing into the marine park has quadrupled over the past 150 years. This increase can largely be attributed to grazing and cropping expansion in the catchment, which has also resulted in the loss of native vegetation and wetlands. Nutrient loads have also increased, encouraging algal blooms, which, in turn, provide food for larvae of the devastating crown-of-thorns starfish. In addition, nearly one-third of the reef is now exposed to pesticides. ority_ocean_places/great_barrier_reef/threats/pesticides/
  7. 7. What are the threats to The Great Barrier Reef Water quality Water quality was first identified as a threat to the Great Barrier Reef in 1989. Thirty "major rivers" and hundreds of small streams comprise the Great Barrier Reef catchment area, which covers 423,000 square kilometres of land. Queensland has several major urban centres on the coast including Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and the industrial city of Gladstone. • There are many major water quality variables affecting coral reef health including water temperature, salinity, nutrients, suspended sediment concentrations, and pesticides. River discharges are the single biggest source of nutrients, providing significant pollution of the Reef during tropical flood events with over 90% of this pollution being sourced from farms. Climate change • Most people believe that the most significant threat to the status of the Great Barrier Reef and of the planet's other tropical reef ecosystems is climate change, consisting chiefly of global warming and the El Niño effect. Many of the corals of the Great Barrier Reef are currently living at the upper edge of their temperature tolerance, as demonstrated in the mass coral bleaching events of the summers of 1998, 2002 and 2006. Crown-of-thorns starfish • • • The Crown-of-Thorns Starfish is a coral reef predator which preys on coral polyps by climbing onto them, extruding its stomach over them, and releasing digestive enzymes to absorb the liquefied tissue. An individual adult of this species can eat up to six square metres of living reef in a single year. Although large outbreaks of these starfish are believed to occur in natural cycles, human activity in and around the Great Barrier Reef can worsen the effects. Reduction of water quality associated with agriculture can cause the crown-of-thorns starfish larvae to thrive. Overfishing of its natural predators, such as the Giant Triton, is also considered to contribute to an increase in the number of crown-of-thorns starfish
  8. 8. What are the threats to The Great Barrier Reef Overfishing The unsustainable overfishing of keystone species, such as the Giant Triton and sharks, can cause disruption to food chains vital to life on the reef. Fishing also impacts the reef through increased pollution from boats, by-catch of unwanted species (such as dolphins and turtles) and reef habitat destruction from trawling, anchors and nets. • As of 1 July 2004, approximately one-third of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is protected from species removal of any kind, including fishing, without written permission. However, illegal poaching is not unknown in these no-take zones Shipping • Shipping accidents are also a pressing concern, as several commercial shipping routes pass through the Great Barrier Reef. From 1985-2001, there were 11 collisions and 20 groundings on the inner Great Barrier Reef shipping route. The leading cause of shipping accidents in the Great Barrier Reef is human error • Waste and foreign species discharged in ballast water from ships (when purging procedures are not followed) are a biological hazard to the Great Barrier Reef. • In April 2010, the bulk coal carrier Shen Neng 1 ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef causing the largest grounding scar to date and creating a oil slick of heavy fuel oil 2 nautical miles (3.7 km; 2.3 mi) long. Tropical cyclones • • • Tropical cyclones are a cause of ecological disturbance to the Great Barrier Reef. The types of damage caused by tropical cyclones to the Great Barrier Reef is varied, including fragmentation, sediment plumes, and decreasing salinity following heavy rains On February 2, 2011, Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi struck northern Queensland and caused severe damage to a stretch of hundreds of kilometres within the Great Barrier Reef. The corals could take a decade to recover fully. Cyclone Yasi had wind speeds of 290 kilometers per hour
  9. 9. What are the economic benefits of developing The Great Barrier Reef • Tourism is the activity with the highest commercial value within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Approximately 1.6 million visitors travel to or through the reef on commercial tourism operations each year. • In addition, more than one million visitor nights per year are spent in accommodation on island resorts. • The direct value of marine tourism is over $1 billion per year, approximately four times that of the next most valuable commercial activity, i.e. commercial fishing.
  10. 10. What are the economic benefits of developing The Great Barrier Reef • There are many sectors of the Great Barrier Reef marine tourism industry. – Tourist pontoons are used as a base for day passengers. Other structures include underwater observatories, and a floating hotel that operated briefly in the 1980s. Larger day trip operations to pontoons represent the largest single component of the industry. – Vessel-based tourism operations. These carry from < 10 to > 400 passengers, and may be site-specific or roving, and may operate to islands or moorings. – Extended vessel-based tourism operations. Vessels carry 6 – 160 passengers on trips of several days to weeks, generally stopping at more than one destination. – Bareboat charter. Primarily based in the Whitsunday Islands, yachts are available for charter with or without crew for operation within a restricted area. – Cruise ships. Large (> 10,000 tonnes) cruise ships pass through and anchor overnight in the Marine Park. – Aircraft-based operations. Conventional aircraft, seaplanes and helicopters are used for sightseeing and transfers. – Resort and shore-based operations. There are several island-based resorts within the Marine Park, and a number of mainland resorts adjacent to the Marine Park.
  11. 11. Managing The Great Barrier Reef Marine tourism and conservation • In countries outside Australia, there is strong pressure to expand the network of marine protected areas to enhance reef conservation. A major mechanism to fund conservation and marine park efforts is via the tourism industry. The economic value of coral reef tourism plays an important role in making a case for improved management and conservation. The following contributions of tourism to environmental conservation have been identified. – Direct financial contributions e.g. fees for park entry. – Contributions to government revenues via taxes, rates, license fees. – Environmental awareness training. Tourism can increase public appreciation of the environment and enhance environmental awareness, which increases the community’s desire to preserve the environment. – Protection and preservation. Increases the value of attractive, and pristine sites and enhances support for marine protected areas. – Alternative employment. Tourism can provide employment for people displaced from less environmentally sensitive activities (eg. logging in rainforests). What are some of the things being done to help care for the reef? • All boats that use trawl nets within the World Heritage Area of the Great Barrier Reef must have electronic devices on board that; reduce the amount of fish they catch, that they don’t want, and; prevent them from catching turtles in their nets; • All boats in the commercial prawn fleet must be fitted with satellite tracking devices, to show their location on the Great Barrier Reef; • Tourist tickets include an environmental management fee, so a portion of the money made from the tourist trade goes straight back into research for the Great Barrier Reef; • Limits on permitted tourism have been introduced in some highly used areas; • Agricultural ‘Best Practice’ codes have been created to address environmental problems caused by industries such as sugar, dairy, horticulture, cotton and aquaculture. • The agriculture industry is working with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to encourage farmers to adopt sustainable farming practices; • There are new policies for protecting particular animals, including 16 dugong protection areas, a comprehensive whale and dolphin policy for the entire Great Barrier Reef, and a turtle conservation policy is being implemented. • The Representative Areas Program was used to develop zones that will protect areas of the Great Barrier Reef that ‘represent’ different habitats and animal and plant communities.
  12. 12. Conflict Matrix: The Great Barrier Reef Tourist Tourist Conflict Matrix Key + + + Strongly Agree + + General Agreement + Slight Agreement - - - Strong Disagreement - - General Disagreement Slight Disagreement Fisherman Fisherman +++ Environmentalist --- --- Hotel Developer +++ ++ --- Farmer + - --- + Australian Govt +++ ++ + ++ Environ Hotel Farmer Aus Govt +
  13. 13. Jan 2012