Scientists have concluded that the Great Barrier Reef can no longer be saved because it is so damaged.
The plight of the reef is partly due to the “extraordinary rapidity” of climate change, according to experts.
The reef has been severely damaged by the warming of the oceans, and around 95 per cent of it suffers from bleaching, according to scientists who surveyed it in 2016.
Experts have said the ecological function of the reef should be maintained as much as possible in coming years, but that the reef itself will not be saved in its current form.
A committee of experts set up by the Australian government said the lesser target of “protecting the ecological function” of the reef is more realistic than salvaging it.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority explained what this would mean: “The concept of ‘maintaining ecological function’ refers to the balance of ecological processes necessary for the reef ecosystem as a whole to persist, but perhaps in a different form, noting the composition and structure may differ from what is currently seen today”.
They said they were “united in their concern about the seriousness of the impacts facing the Reef and concluded that coral bleaching since early 2016 has changed the Reef fundamentally”.