Everglades returns to UNESCO list of global heritage sites in danger

30 July 2010

The Everglades National Park in the United States is back on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of the “serious and continuing degradation of its aquatic ecosystem,” the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced today.

The Everglades National Park in the United States is back on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of the “serious and continuing degradation of its aquatic ecosystem,” the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced today.

The agency’s World Heritage Committee agreed to inscribe the site on the list during its current meeting in Brasilia, Brazil, following a request from the US Government. Inclusion on the list is intended to mobilize support for sites whose outstanding universal value is under threat.

The largest mangrove ecosystem in the Western Hemisphere, the Florida Everglades is home to the most significant breeding ground for wading birds in North America as well as the largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie. It has served as a sanctuary for many threatened species, including the manatee.

The Everglades was first inscribed on the danger list in 1993 because of the damage caused by Hurricane Andrew the previous year, as well as a marked deterioration in water flow and quality due to urban development and agriculture.

It was taken off the list in 2007, with the World Heritage Committee commending the US for the scientific and financial resources invested in the site’s conservation.

But degradation of the site has continued, UNESCO noted, with water inflows reduced by up to 60 per cent and pollution reaching the point where the site is showing significant indications of eutrophication – the process by which a body of water becomes so overwhelmed by inorganic plant nutrients, such as phosphates, that algal blooms emerge and other animal life cannot survive.

The degradation has led to the loss of marine habitat and a subsequent decline in marine species, according to the committee, which praised the US for its initiative in asking the site to be inscribed and called on the country’s authority to continue corrective measures aimed at restoring and preserving the property.

The US has requested that experts from UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) visit the Everglades later this year to evaluate the site and assist in the development of better conservation.

Another site was today added to the List of World Heritage in Danger – the Rainforests of Atsinanana in Madagascar because of illegal logging and the hunting of endangered lemurs on the site.

The site comprises six national parks in the east of the Indian Ocean island nation and is home to numerous rare and threatened species, particularly lemurs and primates. It is also critical for maintaining ecological processes that contribute to Madagascar’s unique biodiversity.

Explaining its reasoning, the World Heritage Committee said Madagascar continues to provide export permits for illegally logged timber, despite a decree outlawing the exploitation and export of rosewood and ebony.

Committee members urged Madagascar to “take all necessary measures” to halt the illegal logging activities and enforce the decree. It also called on authorities to organize a high-level meeting with other countries to ensure that illegal timber originating from Madagascar is banned and prevented from entering other markets.

The World Heritage Committee has been meeting in Brasilia since the start of the week as it reviews candidates for inclusion on its World Heritage List and assesses the List of World Heritage in Danger as well.

Yesterday the committee added Uganda’s Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi and the Bagrati Cathedral and Gelati Monastery in Georgia to the List of World Heritage of Danger. But the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador was dropped from the list.

 

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Florida Everglades and Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve off 'danger list' – UNESCO

The Everglades National Park in the United States and Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve in Honduras have been removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced today.