Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

World Heritage Committee decision on Great Barrier Reef

Media release
29 June 2012

The World Heritage Committee has accepted a draft decision on the state of conservation of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area released by UNESCO in June.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke acknowledged the Committee’s decision, which was made at its 36th session in St Petersburg overnight.

“This decision reflects the World Heritage Committee and UNESCO’s awareness that Australia’s management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is international best practice in many areas,’’ Mr Burke said.

“However, there is no doubt that the Great Barrier Reef, like all coral reefs around the world, is subject to a range of threats, which are clearly acknowledged in the Outlook Report on the Great Barrier Reef that was prepared by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in 2009.

“We know that these issues are complex and will take time to manage, but the Gillard Government is committed to addressing them through a range of approaches both on land and in the marine environment.

“The World Heritage Committee report recognises the excellence of our management of marine protected areas and they have asked us to strengthen the sharing of our best practices and success stories with other World Heritage sites facing similar challenges.

“The report acknowledges the comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef currently being undertaken with the Queensland Government.

“It will be by far the largest and most comprehensive and complex assessment undertaken in Australia.”

Mr Burke said that the Australian and Queensland governments will work together to respond to the decisions.

“The World Heritage Committee decision requires detailed consideration. We will need to determine appropriate responses to the recommendations, keeping in mind that many of the recommendations reinforce processes that are already well underway,’’ Mr Burke said.

“The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world's greatest natural wonders and an internationally renowned tourism hot spot.

“Millions of visitors come to the Reef each year to experience and enjoy its natural beauty. The Gillard Government is committed to ensuring the best possible protection and management for this amazing place.”

Mr Burke said the decision was made following discussion and consideration of a draft decision and state of conservation report developed by members of a joint monitoring mission to the Great Barrier Reef by the World Heritage Centre and International Union for the Conservation of Nature.