How tourists can help protect the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living ecosystem in the world. One large living structure, connected through reefs that have been building for thousands of years. And just like anything that has lived, it has to deal with the trials and tribulations of life, death and everything in between.
There is a lot of speculation about the health of the reef and as to whether or not it is thriving or dying in terms of coral bleaching, cyclone damage and human interference. One thing we do know for sure, is that you can help protect it, keep it healthy and preserve it for future generations to come. Here's how:
Visit the reef:
Visiting the reef for yourself is the best way to help protect it. Contradictory to what some people think, seeing it, visiting and spending time here will help it long term. You might wonder "but won't visiting it damage it more?" "what about our footprint on the reef?" or "isn't it worse to spend time there than stay away?" - the answer is no. Tour operators and locals love the reef; they want to protect it. They fiercely conserve, preserve and watch out for the reef and all that goes on in it. That means the highest quality of care during any tours or trips you might do, as well as tips from your guides on the reef and how to protect it.
Visiting the reef also means more money goes into the reef. The more tourists and tours in the area, the more focus there is on its conservation. Not only do the protectors of the reef rely on grants from the government and non-governmental organizations, but they also depend on the flow of income that comes from tourism. It allows us to be able to put more money back in the area and to help keep it healthier for the future.
Seeing the reef for yourself means you can spread awareness and help get the message out about the Great Barrier Reef. When you visit, you too will fall in love and hopefully in turn, make it a better place to visit and see in the future.
Check in with allies of the reef:
If you can't visit the reef but wish to help it, there are many governmental and non-governmental organizations that help protect the reef and its inhabitants that you can check out and support. You can visit the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park website to get a good idea about the status of the reef itself and how you can help, as well as several other websites that target helping and preserving the reef, such as Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef. Founded by the creator of Earth Hour, it is an easy way for people from all across the globe to help the reef, no matter where they are and launches in July 2017.
There is a lot of news out there: check your sources and find out what's true and what's not. If you can, find out first hand what it's like to visit The Great Barrier Reef, and what you should know before coming. Ask questions and then ask more questions: there is no such thing as too much information. Education and awareness are the first and foremost problem with the Great Barrier Reef, and the more you know, the better off all the inhabitants of the reef are.
The Great Barrier Reef is ours to protect. If we all do our part to protect it, it will remain thriving for future generations to enjoy, love and watch flourish.