The Great Barrier Reef: A heritage site in danger, according to UNESCO

·2-min read
The Great Barrier Reef is under threat from global warming.

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for 40 years, the Great Barrier Reef could soon be officially added to the organization's list of World Heritage in Danger. This warning underlines the urgent need to preserve this part of the world, which is threatened by global warming.

The tombs of the Buganda kings in Kasubi (Uganda), the Sumatra rainforests (Indonesia) and the Everglades National Park (USA) are just some of the global sites featured on UNESCO's list of World Heritage in Danger .

An unfortunate list that the Great Barrier Reef (Australia) is now likely to join. UNESCO's recommendation refers to the effects of climate change on this marvel of the Pacific Ocean, which is the largest coral system and the largest living structure on the planet. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981.

The Great Barrier Reef has already experienced three episodes of coral bleaching in five years (2016, 2017 and 2020), notably due to rising water temperatures. Pollution and agricultural runoff have also allowed the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish to proliferate.

In March 2020, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority unveiled a study showing the extent of coral bleaching based on aerial shots and highlighting the urgent need to implement climate policies to protect these coral reefs.

The fate of the Great Barrier Reef will be decided at the next meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which will be held in Fuzhou, China, July 16 to 31. And this Australian natural treasure isn't the only site that risks being added to UNESCO's blacklist.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will also be ruling on Venice, because of its degradation caused by mass tourism, as well as the Hungarian capital Budapest, including the banks of the Danube and the Buda Castle district, which, according to UNESCO, have been affected by major renovation and construction work altering the nature these historic sites.

The UNESCO World Heritage in Danger list was created in 1972 to protect natural and cultural sites threatened by global warming, armed conflicts and human activity. It currently lists 53 places considered to be in danger, spread over all five continents.

"The listing of a site as World Heritage in Danger allows the conservation community to respond to specific preservation needs in an efficient manner. Indeed, the mere prospect of inscribing a site on this List often proves to be effective, and can incite rapid conservation action," explains the organization's website .

Léa Drouelle