Businesses urged to fund Great Barrier Reef restoration projects

Canberra, Dec 16 (IANS) The Australian government has put a call out for wealthy Australian companies to “sponsor” the Great Barrier Reef, as part of a new plan to boost the world-class attraction’s health.

Announced on Wednesday, the government will offer sponsorships — ranging from $1 million up to $5 million — allowing companies to use the reef as a part of their branding, while the money funds relief projects in the region, Xinhua reported.

Some of the projects up for sponsorship include the control of the introduced predatory crown-of-thorns starfish, catchment repair, native plant nursery and weed control, the establishment of floating wetland and the restoration of riparian areas.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Wednesday there was no limit to what big businesses could achieve while sponsoring the site, saying that as well as taking up the planned sponsorships, businesses could come up with their own projects to help.

“The innovation, goodwill and commitment of the industry, private sector and philanthropy all have a key role to play,” Hunt said.

However, the decision has faced a backlash from green groups and the Greens political party, with senator Larissa Waters slamming the project as a “bit rich” coming from a government that continues to pollute the region through funding fossil fuel ventures.

“It’s a bit rich for the government to be cooking the reef with its coal obsession, and then wanting rich individuals to bail it out,” Waters told ABC.

She suggested the government dip into its own deep pockets to fund the preservation projects.

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