Great Barrier Reef reaches ‘critical’ level as a result of climate change

“Great Barrier Reef, Eddy Reef off Mission Beach” by Paul from is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Emma Gamanho, Ranger Review Reporter

In the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) November 2020 report on natural World Heritage sites, the Great Barrier Reef’s status has been changed to “critical”. Prior to this new report, the reef’s status was labeled as a “significant concern”.

World Heritage Sites such as the Great Barrier Reef are defined as “the most significant protected areas on Earth” according to the IUCN. A major source of oxygen, this coral reef is home to many species such as the dugong and large green turtle. Unfortunately, those species are endangered and the deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef threatens their existence.

Because climate change is becoming progressively worse, temperatures are rising due to the exponential increase in greenhouse gases. This is causing the reef to be more susceptible to diseases. In addition, the ecosystem of the reef is dramatically altered due to the increase in temperature as well as rising water levels, change in tropical storms, and the increase in acidity.

Unfortunately, the Great Barrier Reef is not the only World Heritage site in danger. The unnatural acceleration of climate change has caused a decline in other sites such as Everglades National Park and the Tropical Rain Forest Heritage of Sumatra. While the damage is beyond local reparation, extreme measures need to be taken in order to reverse their decline.