Why Is the Great Barrier Reef Important?

The Great Barrier Reef is important for many reasons. It protects coastlines from the damaging effects of tropical storms and waves, assists in carbon and nitrogen fixing, helps with nutrient recycling, and provides a habitat for a variety of marine organisms, according to Queensland Museum.

The Great Barrier Reef and coral reefs like it support more species per unit area than any other marine environment. This biodiversity is crucial in discovering new medications and treatments for illnesses. Coral reefs are important to economic success as well. Coral reef tourism boosts local economies through recreational activities associated with the reef and through restaurants and lodging for tourists. Coral reefs are a substantial resource for U.S. fisheries, as reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Coral reefs are deteriorating due to human interference. Boats and recreational contact cause physical damage to the reefs. Runoff of sediments, contaminants, nutrients from agriculture, industry, sewage and land clearing in the watershed threatens the health of coral reefs. Poor water quality, increased water temperatures and increased pollution create a higher likelihood for coral disease, which is responsible for the widespread mortality of biodiversity seen in the last three decades, reports the United States Environmental Protection Agency.