Yesterday we told you how the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, aka UNESCO, had granted several new sites “World Heritage” status at their recent meeting held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. That same group also moved two other sites to their endangered list in a move that typically serves as a warning about the future health of those locations.
Returning to the endangered list this year is the Florida Everglades, which were first cited back in 1993 and remained on the list until 1997 due to damage sustained during Hurricane Andrew. The sub-tropical wilderness is the largest of its kind in the United States, but is degrading rapidly, thanks to the loss of more than 60% of its water inflow. The committee also noted that increased levels of pollution is causing the water in the Everglades to become toxic, killing, or driving off, large numbers of marine life that once lived in the area as well.
Also added to the endangered list this year are the rain forests of Atsinanana, located in Madagascar. In this case, the World Heritage Committee cited the illegal logging operations that continue to go on there, as well as the hunting of an endangered species of lemurs, as causes for concern for the future of that natural environment.
Being put on the endangered list is not necessarily a bad thing for these World Heritage Sites. In the past, such a designation has brought a great deal of attention and focus to the problems at those locations, allowing governments to clean them up and keep them better protected for future generations to enjoy as well. Hopefully that will be the case in both of these cases as well.
[Photo credit: Moni3 via WikiMedia Commons]
We all know the global recession has hit the tourism industry pretty hard, but smaller countries off the beaten path are feeling it worse, and are less able to bounce back.
The Gambia is the smallest nation on the African mainland and has a modest tourism industry based around its beautiful beaches, serene river, and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the mysterious stone circles pictured here. Unfortunately, Mr. Alieu Secka, president of the nation’s Hoteliers Association, says there’s been a 50% drop in arrivals for the 2009/2010 season. A quick check of several leading hotels revealed the figure to be more or less accurate.
The Gambia is not a rich nation, and such a plunge in the industry will threaten jobs and businesses, creating a knock-on effect as families have to support the newly jobless.
Is The Gambia the proverbial canary in the coalmine? Will other small nations get hit this hard?
Hopefully I’ll be going to The Gambia in 2010. My wife, who is very supportive of her wandering husband, gave me a flight there as a Christmas present, so assuming I don’t trade it in for a flight somewhere else to visit my friend as he motorcycles across Africa, I’ll be able to give a firsthand report. Perhaps I’ll bring along some extra money to spend. The Gambians deserve it.
In case you’re wondering, I got her an espresso machine. She didn’t want to go to The Gambia with me so I guess she’ll just sip espresso at home and read my blog posts.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee just wrapped up its 33rd annual conference in Seville, Spain, where they added 13 new sites to their list of amazing locations around the globe, and made the unusual move of dropping one. The new list of World Heritage Sites now stands at 890.
Of the 13 new sites, 11 are cultural sites and 2 are natural. The two new natural sites are the Wadden Sea on the border between Germany and the Netherlands and the Dolomite Mountains in Italy. The cultural sites include such places as the Tower of Hercules in Spain, The Sacred City of Caral-Supe in Peru, and Sulamain-Too Sacred Mountain in Kyrgyzstan. For a complete list of the new sites, check out the official press release here.
The former World Heritage Site that was dropped from the list was the Elbe Valley in Dresden, Germany. The committee expressed concern over the fact that a new four-lane bridge was being built through the Valley, and even attempted to give warning of this action, placing the site on the Danger List back in 2006. When construction proceeding anyway, they felt they had no other choice, but to drop the Valley from their list.
Three other sites have also been put on notice that they could also be dropped in the future. The Belize Reef Reserve System in Belize was put on notice mainly due to the harvesting of mangrove trees and excessive development in the area. The Los Katios National Park in Columbia was added at the request of the Columbian government to help mobilize international efforts to protect the region and The Historical Monuments of Mtskheta in Georgia were listed as “in danger” over concerns with the preservation of the edifices located there.
Despite reports earlier this week, the Everglades National Park has not yet been placed back on the danger list. The committee intends to study the situation and make a more informed ruling in the future.
The new additions to the list are excelent, and it gives us an amazing life list just pursuing these World Heritiage Site. Forget the “1000 Places To See Before You Die” and just focus on these 890.