About the Project
An exceptional group of individuals and organisations have joined forces with a single purpose: to collect living specimens of the world’s coral species and preserve them in a ‘coral ark’, creating a true legacy for future generations.
The need is driven by unprecedented losses in coral cover and declines in reef health resulting from a range of pressures – most significantly coral bleaching events driven by climate change. With every successive bleaching event, we are losing the most vulnerable coral reefs and species.
Globally, coral reefs support over 25% of all marine species, and over 1 billion people depend on them for their survival. Nationally, the Great Barrier Reef has been conservatively estimated to contribute over $6.4 billion in direct value-add to the Australian economy and support over 64,000 jobs.
The situation is critical if we are to sustain what remains of the largest natural living structure on the planet and an Australian icon, the Great Barrier Reef.
FREQUETLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Honesty and accountability are core to who we are and how we operate. Our views are evidence-based and we take responsibility for our actions, learn from our successes and failures, and are committed to continuous improvement. As such, we have chosen the toughest questions/criticisms that we have received about the Living Coral Biobank to answer here.
The Biobank is ignoring the real issues, like climate change
Great Barrier Reef Legacy acknowledges that climate change is the biggest threat to coral reefs and efforts to reduce greenhouse gases should not only continue but be accelerated. Similarly, at a regional level, it is critical that work to improve the quality of water flowing from the catchment and reduce the impacts of Crown-of-Thorns Starfish continues to be supported.
The Living Coral Biobank is designed to complement existing practical efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and reduce regional pressures on coral reefs from land- based and water-based activities. It recognises that the positive benefits from actions to reduce greenhouse gases and improve water quality will take time. From years to decades. And every year we risk losing our most vulnerable corals.
The Living Coral Biobank is designed to preserve the genetic diversity of corals – to act as an insurance policy – while important work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve water quality not only continues but hopefully accelerates.
The Living Coral Biobank is a critical part of a whole-of-ecosystem approach to safeguarding the future of our reefs using proven technology. It is one tool in the toolbox designed to complement other vitally important actions to reduce climate change.
Why is the building so fancy?
Although it may look ‘fancy’, the concept designs created by Contreras Earl Architecture and consultants ARUP and Werner Sobek are based on rigorous practical and functional requirements for delivering a climate and disaster resilient coral ark, with a public interface and zero carbon footprint.
Its iconic shape is designed to reflect a mushroom coral and incorporates lots of clever features for minimising energy consumption and water use. The design will continue to be refined based on input and feedback from the community, together with experts across science, engineering and other fields.
Amanda McKenzie, CEO of The Climate Council said: “The Biobank building will be of immense importance for coral conservation and the community of Port Douglas. As an education, research and design experience, it will contribute to the town’s resilience, development and enhance its worldwide recognition as the gateway to the world’s ever-more precious resource that is the Great Barrier Reef. The Climate Council applauds this wonderful initiative.”
Why don’t we just put the money towards saving the GBR?
We are! The Living Coral Biobank is not about taking money away from existing actions to save the Reef, it’s about doing more, which includes creating an insurance policy to ensure we can maintain the full biodiversity of corals today, for tomorrow, because with every bleaching event we are losing the most vulnerable corals and reefs.
We need to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, more to improve water quality and more to reduce local pressures on reefs. But the reality is the effects of all these actions will take many years to translate into improved conditions for the survival of coral reefs locally and even longer on a regional level.
The Living Coral Biobank is about creating an ‘ark’ to preserve coral biodiversity which buys us time. Our project will also be instrumental in supporting other reef research and restoration efforts by providing a land-based set of living coral fragments, genetic and tissue samples to speed up our knowledge and ability to save natural systems like the Great Barrier Reef. GBR Legacy is seeking funding, additional to existing programs, to protect the reef for future generations
Why the scaled approach?
The Living Coral Biobank project is being rolled out in stages as we need to start preserving coral biodiversity now.
We’re a not-for-profit and funding for the full facility is not secured yet but that’s not stopping us.
We have already completed stage 1 – the concept phase, and stage 2 is about activating Great Barrier Reef Legacy’s existing network of incredible partners and supporters, and using proven technology and approaches, to start collecting and preserving coral biodiversity this year.
The staged approach allows us to start preserving coral biodiversity immediately while we pilot, test and refine systems and work with the community and experts on the final design of the facility so it not only preserves the worlds coral biodiversity but maximises social, cultural and economic benefits for everyone.
Is this a Great Barrier Reef Foundation project?
Lots of organisations are working to safeguard the Great Barrier Reef and sometimes Great Barrier Reef Legacy which is based in Port Douglas, is confused with the Great Barrier Reef Foundation which is based in Brisbane.
Although both not-for-profit charities working collaboratively safeguard the future of the Great Barrier Reef, we run different programs and are two separate entities. Check out the links to find out more about our respective programs.
Where is the funding coming from? Is it taxpayers' dollars?
GBR Legacy is a not-for-profit charity. All funding for the Living Coral Biobank project has come from private and philanthropic donations not government (taxpayer) funding.