Aerial of the Great Barrier Reef.
Aerial of the Great Barrier Reef. C Veron

Health of the Great Barrier Reef tops environmental agenda

PROTECTING the Great Barrier Reef was an important environmental issue this year, a new survey reveals today.

Funded by the WWF and Australian Marine Conservation Society, the poll of 1,680 people found 91% of respondents believed the protection of the reef was important.

Rated against other environmental issues including protecting native forest, river pollution and national parks, the survey found 63% of respondents thought the reef was the most important environmental issue this year.

It also rated higher than climate change, while other environmentally-sensitive issues such as coal seam gas and mining were not included in the survey.

Some 60% of those surveyed also felt the ref was worse off than 10 years ago.

AMCS reef campaign director Felicity Wishart said the poll showed Australians were also concerned about proposed dredging and the number of ships which could travel through the reef.

"We urgently need leadership on this issue because the World Heritage Committee is meeting in June to decide whether the reef should lose its current World Heritage status and be placed in the committee's list of shame," she said.

"The Queensland Government needs to stop fast-tracking developments in the Great Barrier Reef and along its coastline."

She said the survey showed Australians were deeply troubled about the industrial developments along the coast.


TOP FIVE "very important" environmental issues in survey

  1. Protecting the Great Barrier Reef: 63%
  2. Pollution of rivers, waterways and seas: 61%
  3. Protecting Australian endangered species: 55%
  4. Renewable energy production: 54%
  5. Protecting oceans and coast: 52%

SOURCE: Essential Research survey, of 1,680 Australians.