UNESCO's World Heritage Committee has decided to put off adding northeastern Australia's Great Barrier Reef to its "World Heritage in Danger" list, media reports said Tuesday.
The committee made the decision after evaluating the impact of mining and energy projects on the Great Barrier Reef during its annual meeting in Phnom Penh.
The reef's situation will be examined once again at next year's meeting, a committee spokeswoman told Australia's AAP news agency.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, committee made a series of recommendations to Australia to prevent the industrial development that threatens the natural offshore area and urged officials to strengthen laws to protect the reef.
Australia has "12 months to take these recommendations seriously or risk the Great Barrier Reef being listed on the World Heritage list of shame," World Wildlife Fund, or WWF, spokesman Richard Lecky said.
Australian environmentalists and scientists are concerned that a series of planned mining and energy projects will boost coal exports from today's 156 million tons annually to 944 million tons annually by 2020, leading to more ship crossings of the Great Barrier Reef, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1981.
The government took measures in February to expand protection of the Great Barrier Reef in an effort to keep it from being removed from the World Heritage Sites list in the wake of a warning from UNESCO that mining threatened the area.
The Great Barrier Reef, which is home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 varieties of mollusks, began eroding in the 1990s due to rising sea temperatures and increased acidity caused by higher CO2 levels in the atmosphere. EFE