A quarter of natural world heritage is highly endangered. The last three years, the number of endangered sites has increased sharply. Latin America causes the most worry.
According to a new report by the International Union for Conservation of nature (IUCN), there were three years ago, the world 35 natural world heritage sites are considered highly threatened, for a total of 228. This year, there are already 62, on a total of 241.
The report assesses each site on fourteen criteria, including the legal protection, management systems, the relationship with the local communities, monitoring and tourism management. On the basis of which takes the IUCN the sites into four categories: “good condition”, “good with some concerns’, ‘with considerable concern ‘in critical condition’. Seventeen sites were given the label ‘in critical condition’.
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Three Latin American sites
The three regions with the least number of sites in good condition are Africa, South America and Central America and the Caribbean.
In Latin America is only a quarter of the 43 natural world heritage sites are effectively protected and managed.
Only three Latin American sites, all three in Argentina, was given the designation of “in good state”: the natural parks of Ischigualasto and Talampaya, and the national park Los Alerces.
In Central America are the biosphere reserves of the monarch butterfly in Mexico and the Río Plátano in Honduras is in a critical condition. Inter alia, unsustainable tourism, overfishing and invasive species threaten these areas.
In South America, is climate change the biggest threat, followed by animal husbandry and tourism.
“The Machu Picchu, for example, remains threatened by the growing number of tourists and the pressure of development,” says Peter Shadie, a consultant for the werelderfgoedprogramma of the UICN. ‘The most visits are concentrated around the archaeological site, but the pressure also increases on the Incaweg (Camino del Inca) with a potential impact on the nature areas.’
Worldwide 47 world heritage sites in good condition, 107 in good condition with some concern, and 70 with considerable concern.
The protected area of El Cerrado, in Brazil, moved ahead, of site with significant concern to site in good condition with some concern.
But a third of the 70 sites where significant concerns exist, is still in Latin America and the Caribbean. That is the case for the Valdes peninsula in Argentina, and the Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California in Mexico. Both sites went down a category, and walk now so more danger.
Waterfalls of Iguazú
Other sites for which significant concerns exist, the Galapagos islands in Ecuador, the Waterfalls of Iguazú in Argentina, the National Park Los Katíos in Colombia and the National Park of Huascarán in Peru.
“The natural world heritage sites play a crucial supporting role for the local economies and ways of living,” says Tim Badman, director of the werelderfgoedprogramma of the UICN. “Their destruction can therefore have devastating effects that go further the destruction of their exceptional beauty and natural value. In the National Park of Huascarán, for example, the melting of the glaciers consequences for the water supply, in addition, water and soil contaminated by the release of heavy metals previously in the ice stuck, what is the urgency for these places to only protect but shed.’
Several natural world heritage sites prove that co-ordinated efforts of governments and non-governmental organizations, threats can be reduce, says Peter Shadie.
That is the case with the natural Park Los Katíos, on the border of Colombia and Panama. That rose to a better category as a result of a powerful reaction from the Colombian government to address the threats to address, including the illegal logging and the uncontrolled use of other natural resources.’
The nature reserve, that more than 30 percent of the registered birds of Colombia houses, was threatened by the presence of illegal armed groups, says Carlos Mario Tamayo, executive vice president sustainability of the National natural Parks of Colombia.
“The IUCN is supported (this process), and of course the Unesco. We strengthened the control and surveillance, we reduced the pressure on the park and worked with the Afro-Colombian, indigenous and mestizo-communities. After an evaluation of the threats, we managed category to change.’