What is the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and what work does it do?
There are some sights in the world that everyone can think of off the top of their head. These are natural wonders synonymous with planet Earth, which have helped shape local, national, and international cultures, and which are recognisable to people across the length and breadth of the world. But environmental degradation, climate change, and the increasing frequency of extreme weather are all beginning to threaten some of the world’s most iconic features. None more so than the Great Barrier Reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest network of coral reefs located anywhere on planet Earth, spanning a whopping 2,300 kilometers. It is home to over 1,500 different species of fish. It so awe inspiring, incredible, and gigantic that it is one of the few landmarks on Earth visible from space. Not only that, but tourism to the reef gives over 2 million people a year the opportunity to see this natural wonder, and contributes $6.4 billion a year and 64,000 jobs to the Australian economy.
But it’s being threatened by bleaching - a process whereby the coral can no longer survive, and loses its colour. This risks habitats and the lives of the fish and creatures that rely on the coral, and could put jobs and communities at risk from a loss of tourism. Changes in water temperature from climate change, as well as extreme weather events, are causing serious damage to the reef.
But all is not lost. Coral does have the ability to naturally repair itself over the course of time. A critical fact which means that it is still entirely possible that the Great Barrier Reef to be saved. What it needs is work and projects to protect it from further damage, to give it respite in which to repair itself. One organisation has taken on the role of leading such a task: the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
The Foundation is a charity which coordinates between government, business, philanthropy, charity, and science. It specialises in working towards exciting and innovative new scientific breakthroughs to help protect the reef from any further damage due to environmental degradation. In their words, they harness “advances in science, technology and industry to ensure a future for this global treasure.”
The charity started in 2000 when a call went out from the United Nations World Heritage Convention for nations with a world heritage site to set up a national foundation dedicated to its protection. The Great Barrier Reef Foundation has proved more important than most with the tide of climate change posing a significant threat across the world, and to the Great Barrier Reef.
Since then, the Foundation has focused on developing projects and ideas that boost the reef’s resilience, and which can more quickly restore the reef, using innovation and new breakthroughs. Their work provides new hope that the Barrier Reef can still be saved, and they are the forefront of the battle to keep the reef around for the animals that rely on it, and for future generations of humanity to gaze at in wonder. We can only hope that this work succeed.