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Wake-up call to protect Australia's Great Barrier Reef
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16:30, August 10, 2009

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A new report revealed on Monday that climate change would inflict enormous economic and environmental damage to the Great Barrier Reef over the next century.

The Oxford Economics report, commissioned by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, put the economic cost of permanent coral bleaching to the reef at 37.7 billion Australian dollars (31.6 billion U.S. dollars).

The report placed the entire value of the reef, regarded as one of the world's greatest natural wonders, to the Australian economy at 51.4 billion Australian dollars (43.1 billion U.S. dollars).

It claimed as many as 50 percent of tourists who would normally visit coral sites on the reef would stay away if widespread permanent bleaching occurred.

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Chief Executive Judy Stewart said the report should serve as a wake-up call on the importance of protecting the reef.

"While it may alarm some people, its key message is that if we value the reef at all, we must do all in our power to preserve it as well as the neighboring communities that benefit from it," Stewart said.

"We are at a crossroads. We need to act now."

Source: Xinhua

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