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Australia Commits $500 Million To Save Great Barrier Reef From Climate Change

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Australia's federal government is allotting half a billion dollars to help protect the Great Barrier Reef from climate change and other treats.

The allocation is the largest single environmental protection package in the nation's history.

Impacts Of Climate Change On The Great Barrier Reef

The funding, which was confirmed in the May budget, came following results of studies that show the consequences of climate change on the world's largest coral reef system.

In a study, which was published in the journal Nature on April 18, researchers revealed the extent of damage caused by global warming on the reef system. Investigations showed that two successive heat waves killed nearly half of the corals in the most pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef.

Climate change also affected the creatures that live in the reef system. A study published in the journal Current Biology on Jan. 8 showed that the green turtles in the Great Barrier reef are turning female as a result of the warming water temperatures, threatening the population of the species.

$500 Million To Save The Great Barrier Reef

The government will partner with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation in an agreement worth $444 million to mitigate the effects of climate change, reduce pollution, and deal with crown-of-thorns starfish, the coral-eating starfish that can munch their way through corals when they explode in numbers.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and The Department of the Environment and Energy will also get an additional funding of $56 million.

The $201 million of the funding package will be allocated for improving water quality, which involves changing farming practices such as reducing fertilizer use. The $100 million will be used for reef restoration science, $45 million will be set aside for community engagement, $58 million will be allotted for combatting crown-of-thorn starfish, and $40 million dollars will be spent for monitoring the health of the reef system.

"The Australian Government will protect thousands of jobs, improve water quality, tackle coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish and implement scientific reef restoration on the Great Barrier Reef," the Australian government said in a statement released on April 29.

"The Australian Government will invest more than $500 million - the largest ever single investment - to protect the reef, secure its viability and the 64,000 jobs that rely on the Reef."

Other Threats

Besides climate change, other major threats to the iconic reef system include poor water quality, coastal development, as well as illegal fishing and poaching.

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