Mining, logging and other harmful industrial activities are putting world heritage sites at risk.
Industrial development is indispensible for any society, but it should not be at the expense of world heritage. Harmful industrial activities can put natural heritage at the risk of destruction and this is exactly what is happening in the world right now.
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According to World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) latest report, nearly half of the world’s heritage sites are threatened by industrial development. There are 229 natural and mixed world heritage sites in 96 countries around the world, which are not only considered iconic symbols for their respective countries, but have universal importance as well. A total of 114 sites out of 229 are facing significant threat to their unique values and putting livelihood and well-being of millions of people associated with them at risk.
The world heritage sites from Egypt’s pyramids to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to Florida’s Everglades National Park are struggling to maintain their identity because of oil and gas exploration, mining, logging, overfishing and other harmful industrial activities. For instance, 40% of coral reef system has been damaged since 1998 due to unbalanced industrial activates and the same is the case with other Natural World Heritage sites.
“Natural World Heritage sites exemplify some of the world’s greatest areas of natural beauty, geology, ecology and biodiversity, and include many iconic natural landscapes such as the Galápagos Islands, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Grand Canyon. They provide vital resources for rural communities, including food and fuel. Further, two-thirds of natural World Heritage sites are considered important for the provision of water, and over half provide soil stabilization, flood prevention and carbon sequestration service.” The report reads.
These landmarks also contribute in boosting economy through tourism and reaction and over 90% of these natural heritages sites provide jobs to millions of people worldwide.
The report points to urgent efforts needed to protect these threatened natural heritage sites which are bearing the brunt of industrial development. Since world heritage is humankind’s common heritage, therefore responsibility to conserve it also rests on the shoulders of every person.
“Harmful industrial activities have inflicted substantial damage on a number of world Heritage sites.” Report mentions.
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“Avoiding these harmful activities and focusing on sustainable, carefully managed alternatives will enhance World Heritage sites and the benefits they provide.”