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Support the IUCN Red List Bumblebee Campaign

30 June 2015
Bumblebee. Photo: Pieter van Marion (CC BY-NC 2.0)

For the next thirty days, you will hear a slight buzzing from The IUCN Red List. We have just launched The IUCN Red List bumblebee campaign!

Bumblebees are incredibly important animals. They are vital pollinators of both wild and crop plants. Many economically important plants, such as tomatoes and blueberries, rely on bumblebees to produce fruit. Worryingly, like other bees, many bumblebee species are in decline, largely due to agricultural intensification - leading to habitat loss and increased pesticide use - as well as climate change and introduced pathogens.

More than 200 of the world’s 250 bumblebee species still need to be assessed for The IUCN Red List in order to help prevent their decline.

Help us assess ALL bumblebees and move The IUCN Red List closer to its goal of assessing 160,000 species by 2020. We know this goal is ambitious – help us create a louder buzz. Please support our campaign and spread the word!

Sign up here to receive campaign updates.


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IUCN celebrates International Tiger Day 2015

29 July 2015
Tiger in the grass
Photo: Eric Kilby (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Statement by IUCN Director General, Inger Andersen, on International Tiger Day.

The tiger – iconic beast of the forest. A symbol of strength, grace and power. The stuff of legend.

It’s inconceivable that this magnificent creature which inspired the awe and wonder of our childhood could be pushed to the brink of extinction.

But indeed it has. Today we mark International Tiger Day – born at an international summit in 2010 that was held in response to the shocking fact that 97% of tigers disappeared during the 20th century with numbers plummeting from about 100,000 to around 3,000 today.

Remaining populations are now isolated and under increasing pressure from poaching for the Asian medicine trade, habitat loss and fragmentation, and the loss of the tiger’s prey species which people hunt for subsistence. As the communities living in and around important tiger habitats continue to grow, so too does the pressure on shrinking forest resources.

As a top predator, the tiger plays an important role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. The fate of the tiger is intrinsically linked to the fate of the forests and grasslands it inhabits and in turn, the fate of the people who rely on these resources for their food and livelihood.

Because their food sources are increasingly limited, tigers are forced to prey on livestock, bringing them into conflict with local communities. Attacks on people are on the rise and in many parts of the species’ range, retaliatory tiger killings by enraged communities are becoming more frequent, with the loss of key animals important for breeding and maintaining tiger subpopulations.

Resolving this human-tiger conflict epitomises the challenge of modern-day conservation – how to allow people and wildlife to live side by side, to benefit from each other.

Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme Photo: © Thomas Gelsi / IUCN Adapted from CIMMYT; Eric Kilby & Chìnmay - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0IUCN, with the support of the German Government and in partnership with the German Development Bank KfW, began the Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme in 2014 and the first projects will be launched in the coming days, which will help boost global efforts. These projects will focus on monitoring tiger and prey populations and securing habitat corridors to connect isolated populations, while engaging local communities, in particular indigenous communities, to ensure that the activities are compatible with the sustainable development of these people’s livelihoods. In parallel, we are pleased to see a strong global desire for a continuation of the multi-partner Global Tiger Initiative (GTI). IUCN looks forward to working in close partnership with the GTI and its partners as this moves forward.

We know what is needed to safeguard tiger populations in the long term. It requires conserving and restoring habitats, carefully monitoring populations, and bringing an end to poaching. At the same time, the living conditions of local communities must be improved and they should be given access to alternative sources of livelihood in order to reduce the pressure on forest resources.

The tiger may well be in the spotlight today, but that spotlight must be widened to show the world that by saving this species, we can achieve so much more. We can make the forests of Asia the wild, beautiful and productive places they once were, and by doing so, improve the lives of millions of people.

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IUCN grants top management Green List award to iconic Doñana

22 July 2015
<i>Lynx pardinus</i>. Photo: A Rivas.

One of the most biodiverse areas in Europe – Doñana National Park and Natural Reserve – was granted IUCN’s Green List status today in recognition of the successful conservation efforts of its managers.

Thanks to its management, Doñana has become the main stronghold of conservation for one of the most threatened European mammals – the Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus), a species recently brought back from the brink of extinction. Following six decades of decline, the population of the Iberian Lynx increased from 52 mature individuals in 2002 to 156 in 2012. The species has now moved from the Critically Endangered to Endangered category on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.

“Today’s listing celebrates the exceptional work of Doñana and a major achievement for Europe’s biodiversity,” says Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General. “The progress in recovery of the Iberian Lynx, for example, would not have been possible without the excellent management of Doñana.

“The IUCN Green List standard aims to create a ‘race to the top’ in conservation, which will recognise and reward best practice and best results in the field. IUCN congratulates Doñana for its efforts to reach excellence in effective and equitable management of this precious area.”

Doñana National Park Photo: Doñana National ParkAlongside conserving the park’s unique biodiversity, the effective management of the area has secured economic benefits for local communities – through tourism, beekeeping, and pineseed and shellfish harvesting – while maintaining the culturally and historically important El Rocio pilgrimage, which attracts roughly a million pilgrims each year.

“We are extremely happy that our park has been included on the IUCN Green List,” says Juan Pedro Castellano Doñana National Park Photo: Doñana National ParkDomínguez, Manager of Doñana National Park and Natural Reserve. “To us, the award is a recognition of the efforts of many people working in Doñana, the cooperation between Andalusia and other European regions, the General Administration of Spain and IUCN.

“We are convinced that the Green List initiative, its development and implementation, will boost Doñana’s international political recognition. For those of us who work in Doñana, this is also an incentive to maintain our Doñana National Park Photo: Doñana National Parkcommitment and the highest possible management level of this unique space.”

The Doñana National Park and Natural Reserve is one of Europe's most important wetland reserves and is a major site for migrating birds. It is located in the south-west of the Iberian Peninsula, in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia. The park is home to a great variety of Mediterranean wetland habitats such as marshes, forests, pristine beaches, dunes and lagoons. It hosts large Doñana National Park Photo: Doñana National Parkconcentrations of waterfowl – often more than 500,000 individuals – as well as a wide variety of bird species.

Doñana includes areas recognised as a World Heritage site, Ramsar wetland of international importance, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and a European Union Special Protection Area.

As with other green-listed sites, Doñana National Park and Natural Reserve has been granted the status for a period of two years, during which the area’s management will be required to demonstrate that they continue to meet the Green List criteria. Improved institutional support from local and national government, more inclusive management planning and better tourism management are some of the elements Doñana will need to prioritise in order to maintain the Green List status. In addition, concerns raised by IUCN regarding the wider threats to the Doñana National Park World Heritage site, within the green-listed area, will need to be tackled effectively.

Officially launched in November 2014 at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, the IUCN Green List is the first global standard of good practice for protected areas. It aims to recognise and promote success in managing some of the most valuable natural areas on the planet. Doñana is the 24th protected area to be added to the Green List and joins Sierra Nevada National and Natural Park as the second Spanish representative.

For more information or to set up interviews please contact:
Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations, ewa.magiera@iucn.org +41 76 505 33 78

Other sites on the IUCN Green List include:

ASIA AND OCEANIA
1. Korea Jirisan National Park
2. Korea Odaesan National Park
3. Korea Seoraksan National Park
4. Australia Montague Island Nature Reserve
5. Australia Arakwal National Park and Cape Byron State Conservation Area
6. China Longwanqun National Forest Park
7. China Sichuan Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve
8. China Eastern Dongting Lake National Nature Reserve
9. China Mount Huangshan Scenic Area
10. China Wudalianchi Geological Park
11. China Shaanxi Changqing National Nature Reserve

EUROPE
1. Italy Gran Paradiso National Park
2. Spain Espacio Natural de Sierra Nevada
3. France Natural Marine Park of Iroise
4. France Pyrénées National Park
5. France Marine natural reserve of Cerbère-Banyuls
6. France Sensitive Natural Area “Marais d’Episy”
7. France (Overseas territory) Guadeloupe National Park

AFRICA
1. Kenya Lewa Wildlife Conservancy
2. Kenya Ol Pejeta Conservancy

SOUTH AMERICA
1. Colombia Galeras Santuario de Flora y Fauna Galeras
2. Colombia Parque Nacional Natural Gorgona
3. Colombia Parque Nacional Natural Tatamá

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Giraffe research and conservation in northern Tanzania

16 July 2015
Adult male giraffe, Tarangire
Photo: Monica Bond

IUCN headquarters in Switzerland was very pleased to be visited by Dr. Derek Lee and Monica Bond of the Wild Nature Institute and IUCN SSC Giraffe and Okapi Specialist Group on 29 June 2015. They gave a presentation to explain their cutting-edge research on giraffes in Tanzania.

Although giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis) are listed globally as Least Concern on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, their range and overall population in Africa has been drastically declining in recent years due to habitat loss and fragmentation, illegal hunting, and disease. While some populations remain stable or are increasing, others are in a more precarious position and may be threatened. Estimates currently put the total population of giraffes at less than 80,000 animals throughout Africa.

Dr. Lee and Ms. Bond’s research is the first-ever large-scale demographic analysis (population study) of wild giraffes in a fragmented ecosystem - the Tarangire region of northern Tanzania. They are using a computer program that recognizes each animal’s unique fur pattern from photographs to monitor more than 1,800 individual giraffes throughout their lifetime. This includes collecting information on adult survival, calf survival, reproduction, movements, and population growth rates. The intent is to further understand reasons for the decline of giraffes and to use giraffes as a case study of a large tropical mammal living with high levels of natural predation and in a human-impacted landscape, which is representative of most remaining habitat in Africa.

Giraffes are an important indicator of the state of Acacia savanna woodlands in sub-Saharan Africa, but they are understudied and little is known about their ecology or demography in the wild, especially in fragmented ecosystems, which is important since most remaining habitat for giraffes outside of parks is being rapidly altered by human land use. Local communities are critical for conserving giraffe populations as they often have Giraffe chewing cud. Photo: Monica Bondlifestyles that support the free-ranging nature of giraffes, such as the Masai tribe in Tanzania and Kenya. In this regard, Dr. Lee and Ms. Bond are working closely with communities to conduct research, develop management plans and undertake conservation action for giraffes. This is particularly important in terms of connecting already fragmented giraffe sites through corridors and other land management and planning systems.

Monica Bond and Derek Lee at IUCN headquarters. Photo: IUCNDr. Lee and Ms. Bond’s research shows already that connectivity between giraffe sites is critical for maintaining the resilience of various sub-populations. They have also found that more work needs to be done to combat illegal poaching. Further, they have established that the presence of large migratory herds of wildebeest and zebra increases giraffe calf survival which illustrates a link between the health of those migratory populations and giraffe populations. Additional research is ongoing.

For more information about Derek Lee and Monica Bond’s important research on giraffes, please contact them at derek@wildnatureinstitute.org and monica@wildnatureinstitute.org, or visit www.wildnatureinstitute.org. A special thanks to Andrea Athanas of the African Wildlife Foundation for organizing the talk at IUCN.


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One of World’s Rarest Turtles Heading Back to the Wild

14 July 2015
Southern river terrapin - Batagur affinis
Photo: Thida Leiper / WCS

Great news from Cambodia, one of the four countries where the Turtle Survival Alliance and its partners are implementing an SOS-funded project to help protect and conserve the South East Asian Terrapins. The Cambodian component of the project, carried out by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration announced the release of 21 captive-raised southern river terrapins (Batagur affinis) back into their native habitat in southwest Cambodia.

Southern river terrapins were believed to be extinct in Cambodia until 2000 when a small population was re-discovered in the Sre Ambel River system. Batagur affinis is considered one of the world's 25 most endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles.

Batagur affinis in Sre Ambel River system Photo: Thida Leiper / WCSThe species is still known locally in Cambodia as the "Royal Turtle" because it was historically protected by a royal decree and the eggs were considered a delicacy reserved for the king. More recently, southern river terrapins have been pushed to the brink of extinction largely due to unsustainable harvesting of eggs and adults. Consequently, they exist in small isolated populations and there are only a few wild nesting females left in total.

 Share on facebookShare on twitterMore Sharing Services One of World’s Rarest Turtles Heading Back to the Wild 14 July 2015 | News story Great news from Cambodia, one of the four countries where the Turtle Survival Alliance and its partners are implementing an SOS-funded project to help protect and conserve the South East Asian Terrapins. The Cambodian component of the project, carried out by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration announced the release of 21 captive-raised southern river terrapins (Batagur affinis) back into their native habitat in southwest Cambodia. Southern river terrapins were believed to be extinct in Cambodia until 2000 when a small population was re-discovered in the Sre Ambel River system. Batagur affinis is considered one of the world's 25 most endangered tortoises and freshwater turtles. The species is still known locally in Cambodia as the "Royal Turtle" because it was historically protected by a royal decree and the eggs were considered a delicacy reserved for the king. More recently, southern river terrapins have been pushed to the brink of extinction largely due to unsustainable harvesting of eggs and adults. Consequently, they exist in small isolated populations and there are only a few wild nesting females left in total. Furthermore young terrapins are also vulnerable to predators such as water birds and monitor lizards, and to accidental entanglement in fishing gear. For this reason conservation efforts have concentrated on “headstarting” techniques, i.e. after the turtles hatched from protected enclosures on river sandbars they are then transferred to a facility and raised for several years in captivity. This enables them to reach a size where they would be less prone to predation upon release. Release however, can only happen once the poaching threat on this turtle population is reduced, and the grant provided by SOS supported also the training and roll out of a patrolling system implementing SMART (the Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool) for many months before the release was deemed suitable. This precaution ensured that the reintroduction river sites are as secure as possible. The turtles were chosen for release based on a genetic analysis carried out at the National University of Singapore supported by Wildlife Reserves Singapore. This analysis determined how closely the turtles were related to one another. The turtles most distantly related were picked for release to limit potential negative effects of inbreeding. After undergoing health examinations and field laboratory testing by veterinary technicians, all 21 terrapins were fitted with transmitters to allow researchers to monitor their survival and seasonal movements, and to understand their habitat use within the wider river system. Following a traditional ceremony in a nearby village to bestow blessings on the terrapins for their survival and reproduction, the southern river terrapins were then placed in a soft release enclosure (a large oxbow lake fenced off from the river) to allow them to adjust to their new environment. They will be released into the wider river system later this month. The project will be expanded in the coming year. It is expected that the wild population will continue to be supplemented on a larger scale by future efforts coordinated by WCS and partners and operated from a new sustainably-designed facility in Koh Kong Province that will encourage natural breeding and support headstarting of this and other threatened species such as the Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis - another species supported through SOS grants in Cambodia ). "We hope that this project can serve as a model for other turtle conservation recovery efforts where populations are so low that their continued survival depends on hands-on management of all life stages," said Andrew Walde, Executive Director of the Turtle Survival Alliance. About SOS Protecting threatened species is critical because we are protecting parts of our life support system. Wildlife and nature supply is with so many basic necessities from food to fuel and shelter, but also inspiration in art, language and design to name but a few examples. Right now we are protecting more than 200 species please contribute to SOS to help us continue to protect more of our natural heritage. Share on facebookShare on twitterMore Sharing Services RELATED DOWNLOADS Turtles in Trouble: The World’s 25+ Most Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles—20112.72MB RELATED LINK Southern river terrapin project page Donate to help Save Our Species Sign up to SOS newsletter Turtle survival alliance website WCS website SOS - Save our Species, Terrapin turtles, WCS, TSA, 12A-031 Southern river terrapin - Batagur affinis Photo: Thida Leiper / WCS SOS - Save our Species, Terrapin turtles, WCS, TSA, 12A-031 Batagur affinis in Sre Ambel River system Photo: Thida Leiper / WCS SOS - Save our Species, Terrapin turtles, WCS, TSA, 12A-031Furthermore young terrapins are also vulnerable to predators such as water birds and monitor lizards, and to accidental entanglement in fishing gear. For this reason conservation efforts have concentrated on “headstarting” techniques, i.e. after the turtles hatched from protected enclosures on river sandbars they are then transferred to a facility and raised for several years in captivity. This enables them to reach a size where they would be less prone to predation upon release.

Monks holding Southern River Terrapins during traditional ceremony Photo: Allan Michaud / WCSRelease however, can only happen once the poaching threat on this turtle population is reduced, and the grant provided by SOS supported also the training and roll out of a patrolling system implementing SMART (the Spatial Monitoring And Reporting Tool) for many months before the release was deemed suitable. This precaution ensured that the reintroduction river sites are as secure as possible.

The turtles were chosen for release based on a genetic Southern River Terrapins being released. Photo: Thida Leiper / WCSanalysis carried out at the National University of Singapore supported by Wildlife Reserves Singapore. This analysis determined how closely the turtles were related to one another. The turtles most distantly related were picked for release to limit potential negative effects of inbreeding.

After undergoing health examinations and field laboratory testing by veterinary technicians, all 21 terrapins were fitted with transmitters to allow researchers to monitor their survival and seasonal movements, and to understand their habitat use within the wider river system. Following a traditional ceremony in a nearby village to bestow blessings on the terrapins for their survival and reproduction, the southern river terrapins were then placed in a soft release enclosure (a large oxbow lake fenced off from the river) to allow them to adjust to their new environment. They will be released into the wider river system later this month.

 

 

The project will be expanded in the coming year. It is expected that the wild population will continue to be supplemented on a larger scale by future efforts coordinated by WCS and partners and operated from a new sustainably-designed facility in Koh Kong Province that will encourage natural breeding and support headstarting of this and other threatened species such as the Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis - another species supported through SOS grants in Cambodia).

"We hope that this project can serve as a model for other turtle conservation recovery efforts where populations are so low that their continued survival depends on hands-on management of all life stages," said Andrew Walde, Executive Director of the Turtle Survival Alliance.

About SOS

Protecting threatened species is critical because we are protecting parts of our life support system. Wildlife and nature supply is with so many basic necessities from food to fuel and shelter, but also inspiration in art, language and design to name but a few examples. Right now we are protecting more than 200 species please contribute to SOS to help us continue to protect more of our natural heritage.

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Cycad poacher sentenced to 10 years of prison

08 July 2015
Encephalartos lehmannii - Karoo Cycad
Photo: Adam Pires / EWT

In a ground-breaking decision, and for the first time on record in the Eastern Cape and possibly in South Africa as a whole, an Encephalartos cycad poacher has been sentenced to ten years of direct imprisonment by the Jansenville regional court.

The EWT (Endangered Wildlife Trust), one of IUCN’s SOS grantees, would like to commend the National Prosecuting Authority, Advocate Coetzee, and the members of the South African Police Service who arrested the aforementioned poacher as well as three others. This is a truly outstanding conclusion to this case and will hopefully send a strong message to other would-be perpetrators that removing these threatened plants from the wild is definitely not worth it.

The case involved four poachers, arrested in 2014 for attempting to smuggle twelve Encephalartos lehmannii, the Karoo Cycad, into Johannesburg. The Karoo Cycad is listed as a protected species in the National list of Threatened or Protected Species, published on 23 February 2007 and has been globally assessed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Suspects arrested during practical enforcement scenario Photo: Adam Pires / EWTThe trial took place on 24 June 2015 in the Jansenville regional court and was presided by Magistrate Rene Esterhuize. Three of the poachers, Shadrack Matambo, Desmond Manodawafa and Alex Khoza were sentenced to five years of direct imprisonment. As for the fourth poacher, Sibusiso Khumalo was condemned to a lengthier jail time of ten years, due to his previous two convictions for cycad poaching. The vehicle used in the commission of the offences was also seized and forfeited to the State.

Enforcement training course Photo: Adam Pires / EWTThe SOS funded project carried out by EWT is active in awareness raising activities and enforcement training programmes specific to cycads, hosting various training interventions with law enforcement officials from mixed enforcement agencies including the South African Police Service. All activities have had an important impact on the protection of cycads in South Africa and led to this spectacular initial arrest.

In South Africa the greatest threat facing cycads is the poaching of plants from wild populations to supply both domestic and international markets. Current assessments carried out by the IUCN Red List reflect the following in respect of the Encephalartos cycad species in South Africa: three are Extinct in the wild, twelve are Critically Endangered, four are Endangered, nine are Vulnerable and seven are Near Threatened. Of the 67 known species of Encephalartos cycads endemic to the African continent, South Africa is home to 38 of them, 29 of which are endemic to the country, making South Africa an important hotspot for cycad diversity.

SOS – Save Our Species and EWT wholeheartedly support the work of all parties involved in bringing these poachers to justice and look forward to seeing more cases concluded similarly to this one in the future.

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Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Reserve and Brazil’s Cerrado face increasing threats – IUCN

01 July 2015
Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus)
Photo: Jack Dykinga

IUCN raises concerns over the state of Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and Brazil’s Cerrado Protected Areas today at the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting taking place in Bonn, Germany.

As recommended by IUCN, the World Heritage Committee requested today a report from Mexico, in consultation with Canada and the United States, regarding efforts to conserve the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. The Monarch Butterfly crosses all three countries during its annual multi-generational migration. The report will be examined by the Committee in 2017.

Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve witnesses the most spectacular example of insect migration, with up to a billion butterflies returning to the site each autumn from breeding areas as far away as Canada.

The property hosts an estimated 70% of the total overwintering eastern population of the Monarch Butterfly. However, in recent years there has been a significant decrease in Monarch Butterflies in the reserve. This decline has been linked to changing agricultural practices leading to a significant loss of milkweed plants, which are the sole source of food for the caterpillars, along the species’ migration route in Canada and the United States.

The site’s conservation prospects have been assessed as ‘critical’ by the IUCN World Heritage Outlook, highlighting the urgent need to preserve its outstanding values. The Outlook is the first global assessment of natural World Heritage.

River rapids in Chapada do Veadeiros National Park, Brazil Photo: IUCNLack of legal protection has been threatening the integrity of Brazil’s Cerrado Protected Areas Chapada dos Veadeiros and Emas National Parks World Heritage site for over a decade, according to IUCN. Despite some progress, the process of restoring protection of the site has been hampered by unresolved land tenure issues in the area. Appropriate legal protection is one of the fundamental conditions for a site to be listed as World Heritage.

Although IUCN recommended the site to be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, the decision has been postponed until next year’s Committee meeting, following the commitment expressed by Brazil to upgrade the protection status of the entire site. Brazil has invited IUCN’s advice in this regard.

“Time is of the essence for the future of Cerrado: the longer the site goes unprotected, the more it is exposed to external pressures, such as conversion of land for agricultural use,” says Tim Badman, Director if IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. “We welcome Brazil’s commitment to improve the protection of the area to make sure the site remains in good condition.”

The site is part of the vast Cerrado ecoregion, one of the world’s oldest and most diverse tropical ecosystems. It has served for millennia as a refuge for species during periods of climate change, and could play a vital role in maintaining Cerrado’s biodiversity during future climate fluctuations. The area is home to a wide variety of rare species, including the Giant Anteater, the Giant Armadillo and the Yellow-faced Parrot.

Earlier today, the World Heritage Committee adopted IUCN’s advice to continue close monitoring of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The Committee has requested Australia to report, in two years’ time, on progress made in implementing the Great Barrier Reef 2050 sustainability plan submitted by the government, including information on secured investment. In five years’ time, Australia must also present a formal report to the Committee on the effectiveness of the plan.

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