News / Asia

Reef Development Plan Approved in Australia

Corals and fish are seen at Australia's Great Barrier Reef (file photo).Corals and fish are seen at Australia's Great Barrier Reef (file photo).
x
Corals and fish are seen at Australia's Great Barrier Reef (file photo).
Corals and fish are seen at Australia's Great Barrier Reef (file photo).
Phil Mercer
A state government in Australia has approved a huge tourism development near the Great Barrier Reef, a move that has angered Australian environmentalists. Supporters say the new plan is just what the region’s cyclone-battered economy needs. Conservationists, however, say the scheme will damage delicate ecosystems and set a bad example for other countries in the region.
 
The plan is to build tourist resorts, residential areas, shops and a golf course on a cattle farm that borders a pristine rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef near the Queensland town of Innisfail.
 
Environmentalists insist that the Ella Bay project would be a disaster for wildlife, especially cassowaries, which are very large flightless birds, and sea turtles. 
 
Conservationist Russell Constable says other vulnerable animals would also be at risk from the coastal development.
 
“The bay is used by snubfin dolphins and Indo-Pacific dolphins. They're both threatened species. They're species that rely on shallow water habitat. If I'm going to spend a million dollars on a house at this place, the first thing I'm going to be asking is where do I park my boat and, you know, where do I run my jet-ski around and that,” said Constable.

The Queensland state government has attached strict environmental conditions to the development, which officials insist will protect the rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef - one of Australia’s greatest natural attractions. It snakes for more than 2,000 kilometers down the country’s northeast coast and is home to a wondrous array of corals and other spectacular marine flora and fauna.  Environmentalists say the reef, which is the only living thing visible from space, is increasingly threatened by coastal development, including vast coal ports, as well as climate change and pollution.

Speaking out in defense
 
However, the president of the Innisfail Chamber of Commerce, Jake Robertson, says the Ella Bay development would boost a region still recovering from a recent series of devastating tropical storms.
 
“The project will also, crucially for us, create jobs after cyclones Larry and Yasi. We've seen a decline in population in this area. There have been hundreds of people leaving the shire over the last two censuses. We live in paradise here, we all know that, but we've got to have things for people to do,” said Robertson
 
While the plan has been ratified by state officials in Queensland, it still needs to be approved by Australia’s federal government.
 
Ministers will have to weigh environmental concerns against the need to promote economic development. Like many other countries, including Indonesia to the north, Australia must grapple with the conflicting demands of ecosystems that are increasingly threatened by development and the requirement to create jobs and build wealth.
 
A recent study found that 70 percent of Indonesia’s coral reefs have been damaged by a range of factors, including the use of explosives by fishermen, waste from mining and the bleaching of coral caused by climate change.
 
Logging has also damaged valuable wilderness areas in the South Pacific, including Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
 
Australia has one of the world’s worst rates of mammal extinction, and conservationists insist that the nation’s rush to exploit its natural resources has irreparably damaged the environment.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid