The World Heritage Committee will likely decide in coming days to give Australia a further 12 months to prove it’s looking after the Great Barrier Reef.
Australia will again be judged on its efforts to protect the Great Barrier Reef when the World Heritage Committee meets in coming days.
However, it’s unlikely the UNESCO group, which begins its annual meeting in Doha on Sunday, will rule on whether to put the reef on its in-danger list.
It is instead expected to give the Commonwealth another 12 months to continue its work ticking off recommendations made by the committee.
The group indicated earlier this year it would make a decision on the reef’s status in 2015.
This decision will be based on the health of the reef and measures Australia has taken to ensure it is being properly managed and protected.
An in-danger listing for the reef would admit Australia to an undesirable club that includes the likes of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has all five of its World Heritage sites on the danger list.
The committee has said Australia has made progress in improving water quality and praised the Commonwealth’s plan to restrict developments to current port blueprints.
However, it raised concerns about decision making powers over future developments being transferred from the federal government to the states.
It also said a decision to allow three million tonnes of dredge spoil to be dumped within the marine park as part of a planned expansion of Abbot Point coal port, near Bowen, was concerning.
No developments that would impact the reef’s overall universal value should be approved, it said.
Green groups have argued those in power haven’t done enough to protect the reef and predict the committee will demand Australia do more.
The state and federal governments have said they’ve made significant progress, have thrown millions at protecting the reef and are committed to improving its health.
Queensland Environment Minister Andrew Powell, who is heading to Doha to explain the progress Australia has made, has said the reef is one of the best managed sites in the world.
Whether the World Heritage Committee agrees will be revealed when the reef is discussed, which is expected to be on Wednesday or Thursday.