Science

Australia's Great Barrier Reef valued at $42bn

Australia's Great Barrier Reef valued at $42bn”

And it's come in at a whopping 56 billion dollars.

"Drastic reductions in Carbon dioxide emissions are essential - and the only real solution - to giving coral reefs on the World Heritage List a chance to survive climate change", the report said.

Queensland's environment minister, Steven Miles, said the report was valuable as the state government fought for more federal assistance to safeguard the reef.

Here's how they decided on that number and what the reef means to Australia.

He also described the study as "much needed, holistic view of the incredible economic value and opportunities provided by the Great Barrier Reef".

"The study also confirms that no single Australian natural asset contributes as much in terms of brand and iconic value to global perceptions of 'Brand Australia'". Around 1 billion people use coral reefs for fisheries or tourism.

But the multibillion dollar total is not the only jaw-dropping stat about the reef.

A further $3 billion is put down to the value Australians see in being able to visit the reef's beaches, and boating and diving in reef waters.

The cumulative reef consists of 14 ecosystems in all, which rely heavily on the seasonal migration of species throughout different months of the year.

Around 50 per cent of the corals on the Great Barrier Reef has been lost in the last 30 years. The reef is reportedly bigger than the Netherlands, Switzerland and Britain combined.

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But over half the reef is at imminent risk of dying...

"This report makes it clear that the Great Barrier Reef is a treasure that is too big to fail".

It's a stress response when the coral finds itself outside the narrow temperature range in which reefs thrive.

Global warming is deemed the most urgent of its concerns, leading to two mass bleaching of the poor reef in as many years and the devastation of huge portions of the 350,000 square kilometers of corals. About half of the coral throughout the whole body is now bleached. This effect is mostly caused by small changes in climate conditions like rising sea temperature or over-fishing.

So how much is $42 billion?

The new report by Deloitte Access Economics has been commissioned by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. It contributes A$6.4 billion directly to the nation's economy annually.

Other UNESCO listed sites in Australia include Fraser Island, Greater Blue Mountain Area and Shark Bay.

It roughly matches the market values of major auto companies around the world, like GM, Honda and BMW.

That's more than 12 Sydney Opera Houses - or represents over four times the length of the Great Wall of China in A$100 notes, if you want to get abstract.

Of the 64,000 jobs linked to the reef, 39,000 are direct jobs - making the reef a bigger "employer" than the likes of Telstra, the Qantas Group, National Australia Bank, and the oil and gas extraction industry.

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