The Great Barrier Reef is in crisis. With over a third of the reef’s coral dying or bleached, the future of one of Australia’s most iconic natural landmarks is in doubt. Scientists are warning that global warming, as well as ongoing coal mining and agriculture are having ongoing detrimental affects to the reef.
Working to help restore the Great Barrier Reef, as well as improve awareness of the plight it is facing, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson has partnered with Virgin Australia and Greening Australia to form the “Reef Aid” partnership.
The danger facing the reef opens up serious questions about its future. Chairman of Greening Australia, Gordon Davis explains that over the past 150 years, land clearance had created deep eroding gullies, some over 10 metres deep, in the Great Barrier Reef catchments.
“When it rains, plumes of sediment, pesticides and nutrients flow from land onto the Reef, choking fish and coral, creating algal blooms and weakening the marine ecosystem,” Davis said.
With an estimated $100 million needed to restore the reef, the partnership’s initial goal is to raise $10 million over three years, with the Australian Government Reef Trust agreeing to match the first $2 million worth of donations, dollar-for-dollar.
Sir Richard Branson has long been passionate about the health of the ocean, having spent many hours in and amongst its waves, particularly in Australia.
Of the partnership Sir Richard commented, “Like me, Virgin Australia is passionate about doing what we can to help save one of the most complex and beautiful natural systems on earth, the Great Barrier Reef. Virgin Australia’s partnership with Greening Australia will make a real difference at halting soil erosion onto the Reef and improving water quality, but we also need your help.”
For its part, Virgin Australia will mark World Ocean Day on June 8 with a fundraising effort at all major airports. Virgin will offer flights to help scientists, field experts and volunteers working on the reef, while ongoing social media awareness across its Facebook, twitter and YouTube platforms will keep the general public informed of the reef’s condition.
On board, passengers will notice updates in Virgin’s Voyeur magazine, as well as pre-movie advertisements on the Red inflight entertainment system, while during flights that pass over the reef, pilots will make announcements over the PA to draw attention to the iconic wonder of the world.
If you want to donate or learn more, visit greeningaustralia.org.au and, or you can use #reefaid on social media to pledge your support.