Rangers from Sangha Trinational World Heritage site in Cameroon with poached ivory. Photo by A. Cambone/R. Isotti - Homo ambiens
All World Heritage sites are under pressure. The very inscription onto the list can create problems and threaten a site by encouraging an influx of tourists whose numbers can damage fragile ecosystems or historic monuments and buildings. The associated infrastructure that gets built to service the new visitor numbers, unless carefully managed, can also irreparably alter the atmosphere and uniqueness of a special location. Human pressure, even if relatively slow building as with increasing tourist numbers, or more overt and intense as in the current conflict areas in the Middle East, is probably the most common factor in putting sites at risk.
In some areas, particularly in Africa, poaching is threatening many natural sites as animal species are decimated and in some cases actuallly being driven towards extinction.
For example, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Garamba National Park it is estimated that 85% of the parks Elephant herd has been slaughtered by ivory hunters since the Park’s inscription on the World Heritage list in 1980. This year between April and July, 78 Elephants were slaughtered, some from well funded helicopter borne ivory poachers – all to satisfy a market for ornaments and trinkets.
In recognition of the ever evolving threats to many World Heritage sites, the UNESCO WH Committee has placed 46 properties on a World Heritage in Danger list in an effort to highlight their particular issues and awaken public concern.
One site on that list is the Everglades National Park, in Florida USA. This natural landscape site is on the In Danger list because of encroaching urban development and agriculture which affects both water flow and water quality. This in turn has a detrimental impact on marine life habitats and their ecosystems.
This site has recently been photographed for Our Place by Julia Thomson, a contributing photographer and we feature a selection of her images in this month's newsletter. Hopefully publishing and promoting these pictures of this unique wetland will contribute in a small way to its protection and preservation.
If people are made aware of a place, then they can care for that place. Photography is a great medium for achieving this.
CEO, Our Place