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Outlook for Great Barrier Reef poor

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee has stopped short of listing Australia's Great Barrier Reef as in danger despite admitting its outlook is poor as a result of pollution and climate change.

A listing as "in danger" would have pressured the Government to take stricter conservation measures.

"Climate change, poor water quality and impacts from coastal development are major threats to the property's health," the Committee said after talks in Bonn.

Australia announced $6.2 million extra for reef monitoring at the Bonn talks, saying it had "clearly heard" the concerns of the committee and of environmental groups. In May, Australia said it would more than double an area near the Great Barrier Reef subject to special curbs on shipping.

12 months' grace

However, the Committee ruled that Australia must show significant progress in pushing its plan by the end of 2016. The reef has lost 50% of its coral in 30 years.

The Committee lists 45 sites worldwide in danger, from corals in Belize to the city of Timbuktu in Mali. A listing is an embarrassment to governments and means the committee draws up a non-binding list of actions to restore sites.

The UNESCO website does not yet report the Committee decision, noting only the decision on 18 June 2014 to defer a judgement for 12 months.

Sources

UNESCO: Great Barrier Reef

Reuters/Planet Ark 2 July 2015: Reef 'not in danger'

Guardian 1 July 2015: Unesco spares Great Barrier Reef 'in-danger' listing but issues warning