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Decision deferred to class Great Barrier Reef as endangered; UN cultural arm sees progress

  • UNESCO Barrier Reef-1.jpg

    FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 23, 2006 file photo released by Centre of Marine Studies, The University of Queensland, fish swim amongst bleached coral near the Keppel Islands in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. A decision Wednesday June 18, 2014, to add the Great Barrier Reef to a list of World Heritage in Danger has been held off a year, after the U.N.'s cultural agency said Australia has made progress in protecting it. (AP Photo/Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Centre for Marine Studies, The University of Queensland, File)The Associated Press

  • UNESCO Barrier Reef-2.jpg

    FILE - In this Sept. 2001 file photo provided by Queensland Tourism, an aerial view shows the Great Barrier Reef off Australia's Queensland state. A decision Wednesday June 18, 2014, to add the Great Barrier Reef to a list of World Heritage in Danger has been held off a year, after the U.N.'s cultural agency said Australia has made progress in protecting it. (AP Photo/Queensland Tourism, File) EDITORIAL USE ONLYThe Associated Press

  • UNESCO Barrier Reef-3.jpg

    FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Australian Institute of Marine Science shows white coral syndrome in Great Barrier Reef, Australia. A decision Wednesday June 18, 2014, to add the Great Barrier Reef to a list of World Heritage in Danger has been held off a year, after the U.N.'s cultural agency said Australia has made progress in protecting it. (AP Photo/Australian Institute of Marine Science, File)The Associated Press

A decision to add the Great Barrier Reef to a list of World Heritage in Danger has been held off a year, after the U.N.'s cultural agency said Australia has made progress in protecting it.

In January, environmentalists had criticized a plan by an Australian agency to dump vast swaths of sediment on the world's largest system of coral reefs as part of a dredging project for a major coal port expansion.

UNESCO's World Heritage Center has asked Australia to submit an updated report on the state of conservation of the site by February 2015. It did not say what progress it had observed.

"UNESCO is confident the overall direction towards next year's decision is a positive one," said the center's director, Kishore Rao.