Great Barrier Reef World Heritage

Nature in Danger


  • Celmara Pocock University of Southern Queensland



The Great Barrier Reef, World Heritage, environmental impacts, global warming, genetic engineering, 'naturalness'


The Great Barrier Reef is inscribed on the World Heritage List for its natural values, including an abundance of marine life and extraordinary aesthetic qualities. These and the enormous scale of the Reef make it unique and a place of ‘Outstanding Universal Value’. In the twentieth century, protection of the Great Barrier Reef shifted from limiting mechanical and physical impacts on coral reefs to managing agricultural runoff from adjacent mainland to minimise environmental impacts. By the early twenty-first century, it was apparent that threats to the Great Barrier Reef were no longer a local issue. Global warming, more frequent extreme weather events and increased ocean temperatures have destroyed vast swathes of coral reefs. Conservation scientists have begun trialling radical new methods of reseeding areas of bleached coral and creating more resilient coral species. The future of the Great Barrier Reef may depend on genetically engineered corals, and reefs that are seeded, weeded and cultured. This article asks whether the Great Barrier Reef can remain a natural World Heritage site or whether it might become World Heritage in Danger as its naturalness is questioned.

Author Biography

Celmara Pocock, University of Southern Queensland

Celmara Pocock is the Director of the Centre for Heritage and Culture and Associate Professor of Anthropology and Heritage Studies at the University of Southern Queensland. She is a leading heritage scholar with interests in social significance and community heritage, including Indigenous heritage, aesthetics and senses of place, storytelling and emotion, and the intersections between heritage and tourism. Her monograph Visitor Encounters with the Great Barrier Reef: Aesthetics, Heritage, and the Senses was published by Routledge in 2020.


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How to Cite

Pocock, C. (2021). Great Barrier Reef World Heritage: Nature in Danger. Queensland Review, 28(2), 118–129.




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