Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Australia's Ningaloo Coast Added to the UNESCO World Heritage List

Charles Knife gorge in the Cape Range national park, Ningaloo coast, Australia. Photograph courtesy: Unesco via guardian

The Ningaloo coast in Australia, a vast complex of reefs, caves, streams and shallow waters, and the Kenya lake system in the Great Rift valley in Africa, an area of outstanding beauty and home to 13 threatened bird species, are the latest sites to be added to the World Heritage List.

The Ningaloo coast in Western Australia covers 708,350 hectares of coastal waters and land, including one of the longest near-shore reefs in the world, and is home to rare wildlife including whale sharks and sea turtles, already attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year.

The three shallow lakes in Kenya's Rift Valley form the most important site anywhere for lesser flamingo, as well as mammals including giraffe, black rhino, kudu, lion, cheetah and wild dogs.

More depressingly, the committee also added two sites to the Heritage in Danger list. Sumatra's tropical rainforest is now regarded as endangered by poaching, illegal logging, clearance for farming, and plans for more roads. The Rio Platano biosphere reserve, a rare remnant of tropical rainforest in central America, is also threatened by illegal logging and poaching, with the added complication that drug trafficking has made the area so dangerous its environment is almost impossible to police. Most of it is in Honduras, and the request to add it to the danger list came from the Honduran government, to highlight the problems it faces in protecting it.

In a rare piece of good news for endangered sites, India's protection for the Manas wildlife sanctuary in the foothills of the Himalayas, classified as under threat since 1992, is regarded as having improved enough for the site to go back onto the main world heritage list.

Via guardian

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