According to the report of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, more than a third of World Heritage Sites are « of major importance » or « critical ».
The health of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem, is in critical condition and deteriorating as climate change warms the water around it, an international conservation group said, warning more than a third of the world Cultural heritage sites are similarly threatened.
The world heritage site off the northeast coast of Australia has lost more than half of its coral in the past three decades.
Coral bleaching in 2016, 2017 and 2020 continued to harm health and affect animal, bird and marine populations, according to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Bleaching occurs when hotter water destroys the algae that the coral feeds on, causing it to turn white.
The IUCN has moved the reef’s status to « critical » for the first time and has deteriorated on its conservation watch list.
Some of the activities that threaten it, such as fishing and coastal development, can be tackled by the managing authorities, the organization said.
« Other pressures cannot be addressed at the site level, such as climate change, which is recognized as the greatest threat, » he said.
Progress in securing the reef as part of a long-term sustainability plan through 2050 has been slow and it has not been possible to stop its deterioration, the report said.
Turtle populations – including loggerhead carp, hawk beak, and northern green – as well as the serrated hammerhead shark, many sea bird populations, and possibly some species of dolphins are declining.
Efforts to protect the reef are increasing, however. HSBC and the Queensland government said in October they would buy « Reef Credits, » a tradable unit that quantifies and rates the work done to improve the quality of the water flowing onto the reef.
Brazil’s Pantanal Conservation Area was also « badly damaged » due to the unprecedented forest fires in 2019-2020 attributed to climate change. [File: Amanda Perobelli / Reuters] Similar to the Carbon Offsetting Market, which provides incentives for reducing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the program pays landowners for improved water quality.
In South Africa, climate change has also been blamed for the increasing spread of invasive species in the protected areas of the Cape Flower Region.
Brazil’s Pantanal Conservation Area was also « badly damaged » due to the unprecedented forest fires in 2019-2020 attributed to climate change.
Meanwhile, the Kaskawulsh Glacier, which sits between Canada and the United States, is also melting rapidly, changing river flow and reducing fish populations, the report added.
Overall, the IUCN stated that 30 percent of the World Heritage Sites are classified as « of particular concern », while 7 percent are « critical ». .
« The results of the IUCN World Heritage Outlook 3 indicate an urgent need for adequate resources to manage our irreplaceable natural areas, » said Peter Shadie, Director of the IUCN World Heritage Program.
Meanwhile, the outlook for Comoe National Park in Ivory Coast has continued to improve and is now « good with some concerns », having moved from « critical » in 2014 to « significant concern » in 2017.
IUCN said that due to « political stability » and the country’s management of the park, as well as international support, chimpanzee, elephant and buffalo populations are now « stable » and rare birds are returning.
Just like COVID-19, climate change is destroying lives and ruining livelihoods around the world on a daily basis.
Great Barrier Reef, Coral Reef, Australia, Climate Change, World Heritage Site
World News – AU – Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is « critical » due to climate change
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