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Australian Great Barrier Reef – An Endangered Ecosystem

There are varying viewpoints of groups holding different opinions on the state of the Great Barrier Reef. There is one group claiming that the degradation and destruction of the corral reef is caused by human pressure basically due to over fishing, influx of tour facilities, pollution from oil tankers and tourism related activities, while others claim that it is because of climate change.

The handful of researchers and reports produced by various persons and agencies give contrary information based on scientific and non scientific backgrounds, that climate change is the major problem due to reduce in river discharges and rise in sea temperatures. All these groups have produced informed judgments about the conditions of the Great Barrier Reef either due to natural variability or human causes. The UNESCO (2010) report indicates that the inspection team found the damage resulting from the 3 April grounding of a bulk carrier where reef scarring and potentially toxic paint residue have been found.

The coral and sea bed structure was completely crushed in some areas and approximately three tons of oil was leaked into the sea. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) report of 2008 predicts that Coral trout populations are expected to remain ‘ro¬bust’ under all the future projections that were con¬sidered. They further allege that there is no evidence was found that over fishing had any detrimen¬tal effect on biodiversity, or on the ecological integrity of the broader reef community. While individual scientists claim of overfishing are based not on evidence and analysis, but simply on opinion and belief.

The proposal by scientists to close more fishing areas has been disputed by the Authority. Explain how one geographic concept clearly relates to issue. One geographic concept that clearly relates to the issue is an issue of spatial interaction. The interaction of humans and their activities with the coral reefs leads to the destruction of the endangered ecosystem. Many people with interest especially tourist for leisure and tour operators for commercial purposes have led to excessive interaction and congestion posing a great challenge to the carrying capacity and environmental status of the reef.

The spatial geographic concept that I have chosen for this issue in the Great Australian barrier reef is the spatial plan that shows the spatial interaction of all these activities with the environment. The extent and persistence of the damage to the ecosystem will depend to a large degree on the amount of interaction of humans, its activities and the survival of the reef. The issue of geography plays a leading role in human-environment interaction.

The conflicts that arise due to geographical interaction shows that many people within the region have personal vested interest in the Great Barrier Reef and have immensely contributed to its development at the same time degradation at the expense of eking a living. The spatial interaction process as a result of overfishing and shipping has increased the environmental impacts and hence reducing the resilience of the coral reef. The spaces available for all these activities are limited, at the same time the corals do not have ample space and quality to sprout due to disturbances from the human activities.

The most appropriate practical course of action (or compromise) to resolve this issue. The practical course of action is basically regulating tourist activity in the region. The tourism use should be managed through specific management initiatives for the Great Barrier Reef. This process should involve zoning, best practices regulations and issuance of permits to tour operators. A reef-wide system of zoning with a set of management objectives for each zone along with a description of what activities, especially extractive activities should be done (Day 2008).

The permits will regulate the number and type activities that may be undertaken by each operator, as well as conforming to environmental conservation. This minimizes conflicts of interests and excessive encroachment on the reef. Informing the community about the Great Barrier Reef and its World Heritage values encourages the adoption of best practices within tourism operations. A well established set of best practices will effectively guide the activities of tourism operators and visitors in the Marine Park.

Many of the tourism associations have developed voluntary codes of conduct to ensure that their members’ operations are sustainable. The management process involving all the stakeholders is needed is a sustainable management ideal would be achieved. Conserving and protecting the Great Barrier Reef for the present and future generations requires a collective effort of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, other government agencies, the marine tourism industry and other stakeholders.

Bibliography • UNESCO (2010) Damage to Great Barrier Reef assessed; stricter shipping surveillance proposed. Extracted from www. unesco. org/en/news/ • Day J. (2008) Monitoring, evaluating and adapting marine planning and management: Lessons from the Great Barrier Reef (pdf, 559 KB). Marine Policy • Day J. (2008) The need and practice of monitoring, evaluating and adapting marine planning and management-lessons from the Great Barrier Reef. Elsevier. Marine Policy 32 (2008) Pg 823-831 • Lawrence D.

, Kenchington R. , and Woodley S. (2002) The Great Barrier Reef: Finding the Right Balance. Melbourne University Press: Victoria, Australia. • Ilett A, Aiello R, Power M, Recchia C & Saunders L 2000, ‘The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area – Ecotourism in the world’s largest marine protected area’, in T Charters & K Law (eds), Best Practice Ecotourism in Queensland, Tourism Queensland, Brisbane, pp. 65-80. • Starck, W. (2005) ‘Threats’ to the Great Barrier Reef. IPA Backgrounder, Vol. 17/1

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