Industry threatens nearly half of cultural and natural heritage sites: WWF
|The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian department of Cusco |
[Credit: AFP/Eitan Abramovich]
The sites are meant to be protected for future generations.
"Despite the obvious benefits of these natural areas, we still haven't managed to decouple economic development from environmental degradation," WWF director general Marco Lambertini said in a foreword.
"Instead, too often, we grant concessions for exploration of oil, gas or minerals, and plan large-scale industrial projects without considering social and environmental risks."
|Natural world heritage sites threatened by pollution |
[Credit: AFP/Alain Bommenel, Kun Tian]
The 229 natural and mixed sites, nominated by governments of the countries in which they are found, include national parks and nature reserves, forests, coral reefs, islands and coastal areas.
But among the 114 sites highlighted by the WWF, Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the world's biggest coral reef ecosystem, is threatened by both mining and shipping.
In the US, the Grand Canyon Natural Park is threatened by dams or unsustainable water use.
|An aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of the Whitsunday Islands, |
along the central coast of Queensland [Credit: AFP/Sarah Lai]
The report said oil or gas concessions had been granted in 40 of the sites and mining concessions in 42.
Twenty-eight sites were at risk from dams or unsustainable water use, a further 28 from illegal logging, two from overfishing, and 20 from construction of roads or railways. Many sites were threatened in more than one category.
Countries are meant to assume responsibility under the World Heritage Convention to protect listed sites within their borders.
|A National Wildlife Refuge in the Florida Everglades |
[Credit: AFP/Joe Raedle]
"It has consistently maintained a position that oil, gas and mineral exploration and exploitation is 'incompatible with World Heritage status'. Despite this, about a third of natural sites have concessions allocated across them."
The WWF urged governments to cancel all such concessions, and also called on companies to refrain from harmful activities in protected areas, and on financial institutions not to fund them.
The report relies in large part on data from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which monitors UNESCO's natural Heritage Sites.
|A Green turtle swims near San Cristobal island in the Galapagos Archipelago |
[Credit: AFP/Pablo Cozzaglio]
"Healthy natural World Heritage sites contribute to poverty reduction, help alleviate food insecurity, combat climate change and restore and promote the sustainable use of ecosystems," said Lambertini.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest proportion of Heritage Sites at risk, followed by South Asia.
"Protecting natural areas and ecosystems is not anti-development," stressed Lambertini.
"It is in the interest of long-term, robust and sustainable development that benefits people and natural systems, including our social stability, economic prosperity, and individual well-being."
Report and its key findings can be found here: http://bit.ly/1SNiaQi
Author: Mariette Le Roux | Source: AFP [April 06, 2016]
Labels ArchaeoHeritage, Breakingnews, Climate Change, Ecosystems, Environment, Heritage, Natural Heritage, Wildlife