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Posts Tagged ‘Great Barrier Reef’

How Nations Wreck their Natural World Heritage Sites

Posted by Richard Conniff on February 2, 2017

Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef. (Photo: Michael Amendolia/Greenpeace)

Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef. (Photo: Michael Amendolia/Greenpeace)

by Richard Conniff/Yale Environment 360

By any standard, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is one of the wonders of the blue planet, half the size of Texas and home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 fish, and 4,000 mollusks. When UNESCO named it a Natural World Heritage Site in 1981, it praised the reef not just for “superlative natural beauty above and below the water,” but also as “one of a few living structures visible from space.”

Since then, half the reef’s coral cover has died, a victim of bleaching, predatory starfish, cyclones, and human disturbance. You might expect its World Heritage status, marking it as one of the crown jewels of the Earth, would elicit a worldwide campaign to protect and conserve it. Instead, in the face of intense lobbying by an Australian government intent on avoiding embarrassment, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee declined in 2015 even to add the reef to its list of sites that are “in danger.”

That failure to make much difference to conservation may be more the rule than the exception for Natural World Heritage Sites, a new study Read the rest of this entry »

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