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

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.