World Heritage Sites could disappear due to climate change

The International Union for Conservation of Nature claims for urgent actions to mitigate the risk

World Heritage Sites

Leer en Español: Patrimonios Naturales de la Humanidad están en peligro de desaparecer

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) revealed the most recent update of the World Heritage Perspective inform. The new document assured that today,62 out of 241 natural sites labeled as "World Heritage" by Unesco, are threatened by the climate change. The number of places it's almost the double than in 2014, where 27 site were in danger.

Among the threatened world heritage sites some are located in Latin America like Machu Pichu in Peru or the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico and the Belice Reef, the biggest Coral Reef in the north hemisphere. All of these sites are in danger due to the climate change (increase of the global temperature), the tourism and pollution.

Inger Anderse, general manager of the IUCN, said that the countries need to act as soon as possible to reduce the CO2 emissions because "climate change is acting quickly and it is affecting the most valuable treasures of our planet". The study concluded that 29% of the World Heritage sites are facing significant problems and the conservation perspective of 7% of them is considered "critic".

Glaciers and Coral Reefs have the highest risk.

The IUCN's inform assured that the treasures that have greater risk are the glaciers and the coral reefs. The increase in the temperature has a direct effect in their destruction. Other ecosystems that need to be preserved are the wetlands, deltas, the permafrost, and the fire sensitive places.

The international organization explained that some other natural treasures in risk are the Australian Great Barrier Reef and all of Unesco's coral reefs. According to the IUCN the rise of the global temperature can bleach all of the coral reefs and ruin them. In 2016, the Great Barrier Reef suffered from a generalize bleach, which represented up to 85% of the studied reefs. 

The glaciers in the Kilimanjaro Mountain in Tanzania or in the Jungfrau-Aletsch in Switzerland are also at the top of the list of sites in danger. Global warming will melt them, destroying some of the most outstanding landscapes of the planet. They also assured that the melting of the glaciers in the Huascaran National Park in Peru will also affect the water supply to the region and can liberate some heavy metals trapped in the ice.

International Union for Conservation of Nature: 62 out of 241 Unesco's World Heritage sites are in danger.

The environmental organization also warned that the number of world heritage sites that can be affected by the climate change can increase in the next years if the international community doesn't take actions.

However, the report also showed some successful cases that can be copied to preserve the other treasures. The Comoé National Park in the Ivory Coast had an increase of its elephant and chimps population. According to the IUCN it was thanks to effective management and international cooperation. It is one of the 14 places that experienced an improvement in the conservation perspectives since 2014. The next edition of the World Heritage Perspective will be published in 2020.


Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

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