Lonely Planet Writer

Australia will pay for ideas on how to save the Great Barrier Reef

In an effort to save the most famous coral reef in the world, the Australian government has announced new funding for anyone who has an idea to save the Great Barrier Reef.

This incredible coral reef is under threat. Photo by superjoseph/Shutterstock

The reef is under severe pressure from coral bleaching, which is caused by rising temperatures in the earth’s seas, turning the colourful coral white and making it more likely to die off. In recent months there has also been an outbreak of predatory starfish feeding on the healthy parts of the reef.

With an eye to encouraging innovation, the government has announced an A$2 million fund to find new ideas on how to save the Great Barrier Reef. Potential solutions could cover anything from protect the existing coral reefs or encouraging better coral regeneration rates.

Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said the potential funding was open to scientists, entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders. “The scale of the problem is big,” he said, “and big thinking is needed, but it’s important to remember that solutions can come from anywhere.”

$250,000 is available for an initial testing stage and the best idea to come from this stage will be eligible for a further one million in funding so applicants can bring their ideas from a concept to developing prototypes for testing over twelve months. If successful, the applicants will hold on to their intellectual property rights.

Australia’s call for ideas is not the only potential idea to help save the world’s coral reefs. In November last year, scientists carried out the first successful small-scale ‘coral transplant’ and are now looking to push the concept further by replicating the success on a much larger scale. In December, a new programme opened that will allow people all over the world to become citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, in order to encourage people to reflect on how their individual actions all over the world will have an effect on the delicate marine life.