As per the reports, several Heritage Sites, from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to Venice, are now facing the risk of losing their treasured UN World Heritage status, due to over tourism or excess development. In a draft report released recently, the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recommended a major revamp of the heritage list. Here’s a look at some of the sites that are now at risk of losing their prestigious Heritage Site status.
Great Barrier Reef
It’s the world’s largest coral reef system, and has been left battered by global warming. Reportedly, due to rising ocean temperatures in the past five years, the region has witnessed three episodes of mass coral bleaching. The site has also lost half of its corals since 1995, after being lashed by cyclones and attacked by crown-of-thorns starfish.
Previously, Canberra narrowly avoided twice, once in 2015 and then in 2017, having UNESCO put the reef on its endangered list. Now, four years on, UNESCO acknowledges that the government has made efforts to shore up the site, but notes that Australia’s own outlook for the ecosystem has been downgraded from ‘poor’ to ‘very poor.’
As such, UNESCO has now recommended adding the reef to its list of sites in danger, which is a first step towards it being stripped of its World Heritage status.
Venice got included on the prestigious 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.”
However, UNESCO has been raising concerns about the damage caused in the area by overtourism, stating that it is driving an exodus from the city.
Although UNESCO noted that the number of tourists ‘drastically decreased’ during the COVID- 19 pandemic, it stated the health crisis “also highlighted the need for more sustainable tourism management and the development of a more diverse resilient economic basis.”
It also noted that at its request, Venice recently banned giant cruise ships from mooring inside the city centre, but it added that it has no practical effect, as no alternative exists for the mooring of these large ships.
It’s the main reason why UNESCO has proposed to add Venice to its endangered heritage list.
Tanzania game reserve
The Selous Game Reserve attained World Heritage status in 1982, for being one of the biggest remaining wilderness expenses in Africa. However, in 2014, when the elephant population started to decimate due to poachers, the game reserve was downgraded to the endangered heritage list.
The UN raised alarm over the sale of logging rights inside the reserve, along with its recent plans to construct a dam on the Rufiji river, which is the country’s largest.
Expressing concern over Tanzania’s decision to go ahead with the project, despite the ecological threat to the floodplain, UNESCO stated that the reserve’s ‘outstanding’ character has suffered ‘irreversible’ damage.
Liverpool served a crucial role in Britain’s emergence as a pre-eminent trading power in the 18th and 19th centuries. Its port served as a hub for the mass movement of goods and people between Europe and America.
As per the reports, it now finds itself in a tight spot with UNESCO, with redevelopment work being carried out in its historic waterfront and northern dock.
As per the agency, the city failed to cap the heights for new buildings, whereas the city’s plan to come up with a new football stadium in Bramley-Moore Dock will lead to a ‘further deterioration’ of the waterfront’s ‘outstanding universal value.’
Thus, UNESCO recommends taking Liverpool off the World Heritage list altogether.
Budapest, Hungary’s capital, bisected by River Danube, won its UN listing as ‘an outstanding example of urban development.’ It was destroyed during World War II, after being conquered by the Turks.
But now, it is facing the risk of getting delisted from the prestigious status, over a major renovation of Buda Castle quarter, which was aimed at restoring it to its pre- World War II glory.
As per UNESCO, reconstruction work needs to be halted, as it flouts international conservation norms. The body argues that the works are driven mainly by ‘ideological’ considerations, which are aimed at promoting Hungary’s pre-Communist ‘national identity, which go beyond the minimal intervention recommended for historical monuments.This is why UNESCO has called for Budapest to be placed on the endangered heritage list.