WWF declares Great Barrier Reef along with 113 other World Heritage Sites in danger; Fossil fuel exploration slammed

By @ritwikroy1985 on
Turtle at the Great Barrier Reef
A marine turtle swims at the Great Barrier Reef in Great Keppel island April 7, 2010. Reuters/Daniel Munoz

Out of 229 World Heritage Sites of outstanding importance for species and habitats, 114 have been declared “at risk” from mining and other such activities, declared The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). Most of these sites are endangered and being threatened by industrial activities.

The declaration comes in the light of rampant coral bleaching at Australia’s the Great Barrier Reef, which experts believe is being caused by manmade climate change. Conservationists across the world have slammed Queensland government’s decision of granting mining leases for Indian mining giant Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee basin.

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The sites that have been declared “at risk” by the WWF include the Grand Canyon, China’s giant panda sanctuaries in Szechuan and Australia’s the Great Barrier Reef among others. These sites are also supposed to be protected under United Nation’s world heritage status, writes The Guardian. Illegal logging and fossil fuel exploration projects are threatening the precious habitats.

“Even this small fraction of our planet is not receiving the protection it deserves. These areas contribute to our economies through tourism and natural resources, providing livelihoods for millions of people, while also supporting some of the planet’s most valuable ecosystems,” said chief executive of WWF-UK, David Nussbaum.

Conservationists have also slammed the United Nations (UN) for not doing enough for protecting these World Heritage Sites. However, the UN is considering providing armed forces to protect the sites in danger, especially from war.

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The WWF has strongly urged governments to stop destructive activities on the heritage sites. In order to block further damage, it recommends employing alternatives that are environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Today, the Great Barrier Reef is a diminished place when compared to what it was even a month ago. The blues, the purples and any colour in human imagination, they are all gone. Now, the reef is a mere white and that is painful for all nature lovers. Scientist Terry Hughes has revealed that the reef cannot be climate-proofed. Many are calling this reef destruction a political failure.

“Bleaching is a clear signal that living corals are under physiological stress. If that stress is bad enough for long enough, the corals can die. Corals generally have a temperature limit, and the bleaching indicates they’re outside of their comfort zone,” said Russell Reichelt, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Chairman.