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Sea rise could harm Fraser

HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW: Eroded beach on the eastern side of Fraser Island.
HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW: Eroded beach on the eastern side of Fraser Island. File

FRASER Island could be more affected by climate change than the Great Barrier Reef with rising sea levels eating away sand cliffs and warmer temperatures affecting the island's great forests.

How the World Heritage-listed island will cope with climate change will be the focus of this year's biennial Fraser Island conference on the Sunshine Coast.

Leading scientist Professor Ian Lowe will speak about the changes facing the island at the conference on August 12.

Fraser Island Defenders Organisation (FIDO) project officer John Sinclair said the "most outstanding sand feature in the world" was at risk because of its easily eroded surface.

"Fraser Island is probably going to be affected on a size basis by climate change more seriously possibly than the Great Barrier Reef, which is a sad thing for a World Heritage site," he said.

"It's the most erodible surface, it's all sand, it's not rock or anything else.

"As a result of the sea level rise it's going to chew into the sand cliffs and slowly shrink it down.

"It's being hit from all directions with all sorts of factors."

But Mr Sinclair's comments contradict reports from the island's locals who say the eastern beach has grown by about 50 metres.

University of Queensland's Professor James Shulmeister will lead a team to study the island's sand formations in the coming months and hopes to find out exactly how much the island has grown.

Mr Sinclair said Fraser Island was as far north as syncarpia, blackbutt and scribbly gum trees grew.

"If you get any hotter you can expect them to start to move south and disappear from Fraser Island," he said.

"When you start to think of the great forests of Fraser Island being affected in that way - it (climate change) has quite serious implications."

Mr Sinclair and FIDO have been conducting weed removal and bush regeneration at Eurong and Happy Valley on the island for the past few weeks.

Topics:  climate change fraser island rising sea levels



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