Great Barrier Reef (Australia): A Multi-ecosystem Wetland with a Multiple Use Management Regime

Reference work entry

Abstract

The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) covers an area of about 350,000 km2 on the north-eastern Australian continental shelf. Biological diversity within the GBR is very high and includes coral reefs, large areas of seagrass meadows, many species of turtles, sponge gardens and high species diversity of fish, molluscs, echinoderms, sea snakes and seaweeds. The GBR also has at least 30 species of whales and dolphin and the dugong. The coral reefs of the GBR are in generally poor condition with degradation continuing. Seagrass meadows have declined recently but may recover more easily if acute stressors are removed. Dugong and turtle populations in many parts of the GBR are in very severe decline. The GBR has a well-designed management system based on both regulatory measures and voluntary compliance with planning regimes but the net effect of 40 years of management has seen many habitats and species still in decline. Most of the factors leading to decline can be identified as associated with climate change, terrestrial pollutant runoff and fishing. To prevent the further decline of the GBR more stringent measures need to be implemented to reduce the impacts of terrestrial runoff and fishing as well as better global (and Australian) measures to reduce the severity of climate change.

Keywords

Corals Seagrass Mangroves Stressors Management Future 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Catchment to Reef Research Group, TropWATER, Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research, James Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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