In July 2010, the 34th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee will meet in Brasília, Brazil, to determine what new properties it will add to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Currently, the list includes 890 properties (689 cultural, 176 natural and 25 mixed) that the World Heritage Committee has determined have “outstanding universal value.”
Just because something is recognized as a World Heritage site doesn’t mean it’s immune to the dangers of the world—mostly due to human action. For example, the Belize Barrier Reef System (the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere) made the list of World Heritage in Danger last year due to mangrove cutting and excessive development. The Los Katíos National Park in Colombia was placed on the danger list in the same year, due to mainly to deforestation.
Other sites from Latin America on the danger list, and the year they were placed on the list, are:
• Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works in Chile (2005)
• Galápagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador (2007)
• Chan Chan Archaeological Zone in Peru (1986)
• Coro and its port in Venezuela (2005)
The danger list is designed to inform the international community of conditions that threaten the characteristics for which a property was included on the World Heritage List, and to encourage corrective action. The prospect of inscribing a site on the list can be effective, and can incite rapid conservation action.
Have you been to any of these sites and noticed the problems the committee notes for placing the properties on the danger list?