Almost one third of natural heritage sites at risk – WWF

Tanzania’s Selous Reserve is one of the areas under threat
Tanzania’s Selous Reserve is one of the areas under threat

Nearly one in three natural World Heritage Sites are being put at risk by the mining and fossil fuel industries, a WWF report has revealed.

According to the ‘Safeguarding Outstanding Natural Value’ report, which was published this week by WWF, Aviva Investors and Investec Asset Management, 31% of natural World Heritage Sites, including coral reefs, national parks and game reserves, are now at risk, up from 24% last year.

Among those listed at risk are Virunga National Park in DR Congo, Lake Malawi National Park, Tanzania’s Selous Reserve and Canada’s Wood Buffalo National Park.

“Almost a third of all natural World Heritage Sites has the threat of oil, gas and mining exploration hanging over it. This threat rises to an alarming 61% in Africa. Natural World Heritage Sites are places of outstanding natural value… however more sites are now in areas that could be opened up to the extraction of oil, gas and mining for minerals and ores,” the report states.

The WWF is calling for the industries to make “no go” and “no impact” commitments for natural World Heritage Sites, and for companies to disclose existing or intended activity within or close to these areas.

“Some of the world’s most treasured places are threatened by destructive industrial activities that imperil the very values for which they have been granted the highest level of international recognition: outstanding natural value,” said WWF UK’s chief executive, David Nussbaum.

“Protecting these iconic places is not only important in terms of their environmental worth; it is crucial for the livelihoods and future of the people who depend on them.”

The report follows the recent announcement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which aims to commit the world to sustainable development.

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