A startling report from the WWF and UNESCO reveals that more than half of the planet's World Heritage sites are facing a huge threat.
A shocking level – nearly half – of the planet’s World Heritage sites are facing huge threats from industrial activity, a new report claims. According to a report from Reuters, world famous sites such as Machu Picchu and the Great Barrier Reef are at risk.
Industrial activities like mining and logging affect nearly half of the world’s natural World Heritage sites. The WWF, a global conservation group, along with the World Heritage Committee, a part of the U.N.’s cultural agency UNESCO, called for all heritage sites to be designated as “no go” for oil and gas development, mines, and unsustainable logging and fishing practices.
The report found that 114 out of 229 World Heritage sites across the globe are in danger from human activity. The study was carried out by the WWF and U.S. based consulting group Dalberg Global Development Advisors.
According to Marco Lambertini, the director general of WWF International, “This is staggering. We’re trying to raise a flag here. We’re not opposing development, we’re opposing badly planned development.”
The World Heritage Committee currently lists only 18 sites as “in danger,” a far cry from the 114 identified in the recent report.
The report focused on some of the most famous World Heritage sites, from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to Machu Picchu in the Andes mountains. The Great Barrier Reef is under threat from extensive mining and shipping activity off the northeastern coast of Australia, and Machu Picchu faces a serious risk from ongoing unsustainable logging in the Andes.
The report also listed the Everglades in the U.S., the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, and the Kamchatka volcanoes of Russia as facing threats from human industrial activity.
While the report calls for an end to industrial activity in and around these prized sites, industry commitment has been spotty at best. The International Council of Mining and Metals agreed to stay away from World Heritage sites in 2003, and individual oil companies like Total and Shell have made similar promises. Still, the lack of a strong body governing these sites could lead to their ultimate degradation in short time.
A press release from the World Heritage Convention describing the details of the study and urging conservation groups to work to preserve these world heritage sites can be found here.