Success stories: Great Barrier Reef and Los Katíos National Park
The World Heritage Committee extensively discussed the measures taken by the Australian government to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Agricultural use, the extension and development of several ports and the expanding coal production on the coast of Queensland have led to severe damage on the Reef in recent years. More than half of the corals have been destroyed within the last thirty years.
The Committee expressed its serious concerns regarding the state of conservation of the natural World Heritage site, but acknowledged at the same time the protective measures drafted by the Australian government in the Reef-2050-Plan. On that basis, the Committee decided not to inscribe Great Barrier Reef on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Australia is now requested to report back to the Committee on the state of conservation of the Reef in 2017. Minister of Environment Greg Hunt underlined that the Australian government was taking the matter seriously and was intending to implement the Reef-2015-Plan in a structured and systematic manner.
Los Katíos National Park in Colombia was removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger. It had been inscribed on that List in 2009 by UNESCO, notably because of deforestation, unauthorised settlements, poaching and illegal fishing and hunting. The Colombian government had approved of the inclusion in the List in order to launch protection measures on a national and international level.
The Committee commended the joint efforts and called the site an excellent example of how the List of World Heritage in Danger can serve to mobilise international cooperation to safeguard a World Heritage property. Due to its exceptionally rich flora and fauna, Los Katíos is of worldwide significance for the protection of biological diversity.