OSLO – Industrial activity such as mining and logging threatens almost half of the world’s natural World Heritage sites, from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru, the WWF conservation group said on Wednesday.
It urged companies to obey U.N. appeals to declare all heritage sites “no go” areas for oil and gas exploration, mines, unsustainable timber production and over-fishing.
A total of 114 World Heritage sites out of 229 worldwide that are prized for nature or a mixture of nature and culture were under threat, according to the study by WWF and Dalberg Global Development Advisors, a U.S.-based consultancy.
“This is staggering. We’re trying to raise a flag here,” Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, told Reuters. “We’re not opposing development, we’re opposing badly planned development.”
The WWF findings are far higher than the 18 natural sites listed as “in danger”, a more severe condition, by the World Heritage Committee of the U.N.’s cultural agency UNESCO.
The WWF rates the Great Barrier Reef, for instance, as under threat from mining and shipping, while last year, the Heritage Committee stopped short of an “in danger” listing. And the WWF says Machu Picchu in the Andes, also not on the U.N. list, is under threat from logging.
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