UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee met in Brazil on Thursday (29th July 2010) to discuss the ‘danger list’ of world heritage sites at risk. The meeting brings good news for the Galapagos Islands, well known for inspiring Darwin’s Origin of Species, which have been removed from the list after significant steps made by Ecuador to protect its ecosystem.
Sadly however, both the tropical rainforest of Madagascar, and the Everglades National Park of Florida, USA have been added to the list. Madagascar’s rainforest has suffered at the hands of loggers and illegal poachers in the past year, and development in the Everglades has resulted in a 60% decrease in water flow through the wetlands.
Worryingly for the national park, the addition to the list of the Everglades at the request of the US government isn’t the first time. The wetlands were previously classified as ‘at-risk’ between 1993 and 2007 due to the effects of Hurricane Andrew. On this occasion however, the committee cited urban and agricultural development and pollution as the causes for serious degradation of the wetlands aquatic ecosystem.
It is hoped that experts from UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will visit the property in 2010 to evaluate the state of the park and assist in the development of a conservation plan. It is hoped that these steps will result in the area being removed from the danger list as soon as possible.