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Tourism trumps conservation

CANBERRA (SE): Australia’s economy may once have ridden on the sheep’s back even though it may not be its main provider of affluence today, but a spokesperson for GreenPeace said that now the government is trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes.

In a move interpreted by scientific reviewers of a United Nations (UN) report on World Heritage and Tourism in Changing Climate, all references to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the Tasmanian Wilderness and Kakadu National Park have been deleted, following objections from Canberra, Agence France Presse reported on May 26.

The report, profiling the impact of tourism on major attractions, was jointly prepared by Unesco and the UN Environmental Programme. It listed 31 vulnerable sites in 29 countries.

However, when presented with a draft copy of the report, the Department of the Environment in Canberra objected to all mentions of Australia.

The department said that the framing of the report confused two issues; climate change and tourism.

The Barrier Reef is a big earner of tourist dollars in Australia and Agence France Presse quoted Will Steffen, a scientific reviewer of the report, as saying, “The idea that a government official would exert pressure to censor scientific information on our greatest natural treasure is extremely disturbing.”

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