Great Barrier Reef Status Now ‘Critical’ For First Time

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 05 Dec 2020 15:37
Great Barrier Reef Status Now 'Critical' For First TimeGreat Barrier Reef Status Now 'Critical' For First TimePA Images/Shutterstock

It’s no new information that the Great Barrier Reef has long been suffering from the effects of climate change, but it’s now being described as being in a ‘critical’ state by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The reef was previously classed to be of ‘significant concern’ before the IUCN changed its status this week.


While climate change plays a large part in the Great Barrier Reef’s deterioration,  the IUCN stated that things such as fishing and costal development play a part in its demise as well.

PA Images

Part of the outlook that was finalised on Wednesday, December 3, reads:

There has been a further dramatic decline as a result of the 2016, 2017 and 2020 coral bleaching events. Some of the activities causing a threat to the values of the site can be influenced by the management authorities, such as fishing and coastal development. Other pressures cannot be addressed at the site level, such as climate change, which is recognized as the greatest threat to the Outstanding Universal Value of the site.


It continued, ‘While individual decisions and management approaches appear in themselves adequate, the cumulative impacts of many decisions, on top of the legacy impacts and impending impacts of climate change, are of concern.’

The IUCN went on to say that in addition to there being concerns about the reef itself, worries have been expressed about other aspects of the World Heritage site such as a decline in numbers of  loggerhead, hawksbill and northern green turtle populations and the scalloped hammerhead shark.

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It also noted a decline in trends of seabirds and possibly some dolphin species as well.


In 2015, the Australian government released information about its plan called The Reef 2050 Plan.

Part of a document released at the time read:

The Australian and Queensland governments will ensure sufficient financial and other resources are available to implement the Plan and achieve outcomes.

The Australian Government is investing $200 million over five years to improve the resilience of the Reef, including supporting delivery of the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan. In particular, the new $40 million Reef Trust will fund water quality improvements, habitat restoration and species recovery, important for enhanced Reef health.

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The IUCN and Australian government aren’t the only ones to express worries about the future of the Great Barrier Reef. In an interview with UNILAD, Sir David Attenborough said that seeing dead parts of the Barrier Reef in the 1960s and 70s was when he realised climate change was a matter of ‘life or death’.

Decades on, it’s sadly still an ongoing issue.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: News, Australia, Climate Change, Environment, Great Barrier Reef, Now, World News


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