These famous UNESCO sites could lose their World Heritage status

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From Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to the city of Budapest and the aquatic wonderland of Venice, several magnificent sites are at risk of losing their precious UNESCO World Heritage status due to environmental damage, excessive development or overtourism.

In a draft report released ahead of a key meeting this month, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommended a major overhaul of the heritage list. Here are some of the sites that risk losing their precious UNESCO World Heritage Site status, a move that could seriously damage their tourist appeal.

Great Barrier Reef: endangered

The great coral barrier. Image: Courtesy of Sarah Lai / AFP

Stretching 2,300 kilometers along Australia’s northeast coast, the world’s largest coral reef system, a huge draw for tourists, has been hit by global warming.

Over the past five years, rising ocean temperatures have caused three episodes of massive coral bleaching as invertebrates expel algae living in their tissues that provide a crucial source of nutrients.

The site, which has also been battered by cyclones and attacked by thorn-crowned starfish, has lost half of its corals since 1995. Canberra has twice narrowly avoided UNESCO’s placing the reef on its list of threatened species, in 2015 and 2017.

Four years later, UNESCO acknowledges the government’s efforts to consolidate the site, but notes that Australia’s own outlook for the ecosystem has gone from “poor” to “very poor”. It recommends adding the reef to its list of endangered sites, a first step towards its forfeiture of its world heritage status.

Venice: in danger

Venice. Image: Suman Courtesy Kit / Unsplash

The ancient city-state of Venice was inscribed on the heritage list in 1987 as “an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building contains works by some of the world’s greatest artists”.

But for years, UNESCO has echoed warnings from residents’ groups about the damage caused by overtourism, saying it is causing an exodus from the city.

While noting that the number of tourists “has dramatically decreased” during the COVID-19 pandemic, UNESCO said the health crisis “has also highlighted the need for more sustainable tourism management and the development of tourism. ‘a more diverse resilient economic base’.

He also noted that although Venice recently banned giant cruise ships from docking in the city center at the request of UNESCO, “this has no practical effect, as no alternative exists for the mooring of these large ships “. It therefore proposes to also add Venice to its list of endangered heritage.

Budapest: in danger

heritage sites
Budapest. Image: Courtesy of Keszthelyi Timi / Unsplash

The central European city on the Danube, which was conquered by the Turks and destroyed during World War II, has been listed by the UN on the list of “outstanding examples of urban development”.

But it now risks being removed from the list because of a major renovation of the Buda Castle district, aimed at restoring it to its pre-World War II glory. UNESCO says the reconstruction flouts international conservation standards and has called for work to be stopped.

The body said the work is primarily driven by “ideological” considerations aimed at promoting Hungary’s pre-Communist “national identity” and goes beyond the minimum recommended intervention for historic monuments. Consequently, he requested that Budapest be inscribed on the list of endangered heritage.

Liverpool: Faced with delisting

world heritage sites
Liverpool, UK. Image: Courtesy of Shinjan Bhattacharya / Unsplash

Liverpool played a major role in Britain’s emergence as a preeminent trading power in the 18th and 19th centuries, with its port serving as a hub for the mass movement of people and goods between Europe and the United States. America.

But the redevelopment of its historic waterfront and northern port area has put it in hot water with UNESCO. The agency criticized the city for failing to cap the heights of new buildings and said plans for a new football stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock would result in “further deterioration” of the “Outstanding Universal Value” of the city. sea ​​front.

Claiming that years of warnings have gone unheeded, UNESCO recommends removing Liverpool from the World Heritage list altogether.

Tanzania wildlife reserve: the radiation of faces

unesco world heritage sites
Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania. Image: courtesy and above

The Selous Game Reserve was granted World Heritage status in 1982 as one of the largest remaining wilderness areas in Africa, teeming with wildlife including elephants and black rhinos.

But in 2014, it was downgraded to the endangered heritage list as poachers began to decimate the elephant population. The UN has also expressed concern over the sale of logging rights inside the reserve as well as more recent plans to build a dam on the Rufiji River, the largest in the country.

Deploring Tanzania’s decision to go ahead with the project, despite the ecological threat to the floodplain, UNESCO says the “exceptional” nature of the reserve has suffered “irreversible” damage and has recommended its removal from the World Heritage List.

This article was published via AFP Relaxnews

Hero Image: Courtesy of Canmandawe / Unsplash / Featured Image: Suman Courtesy Kit / Unsplash


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