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).
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid