A UNESCO World Heritage Site is place of special cultural and physical importance. The site is often administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Programme. As of 2011, 935 sites are listed on the list of World Heritage Sites. Many of these sites are listed as in danger of becoming extinct. This article examines the sites that need further attention, whether they are or are not included in the list provided by UNESCO.
1. Dead Sea:
The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth. It is also known as the largest natural spa in the world. Everybody who goes to the region looks forward to floating in its salt and mineral rich waters.
Tourists & locals are not alone in their love for the Dead Sea. Aristotle, the Greek Philosopher, often applauded the sea’s remarkable properties. Cleopatra praised its medicinal and cosmetic possibilities. The Nabateans extracted hundreds of tons of its bitumen, to be used for embalming mummies.
Now this sea that touched the hearts of millions is in danger of extinction. With the high demand of water, the Dead Sea has been drying up at a dramatic rate of 1 metre a year. BBC News once reported in August of 2001 that the sea was expected to disappear by 2050. This report comes after Environmentalists in Jordan offered a somber warning.
Things are not as bleak as they sound. In 2011, scientists have come up with a proposal to pump water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea more than 110 miles away. An international consortium of researchers have weighed the impact of the million dollar plan. Only time will tell if this project will work.
2. Medieval Monuments in Kosovo:
Lack of protection by legal system and the political instability that ensues the country has caused major destruction to the Medieval Monuments in Kosovo. The site consists of 4 Serbian Orthodox Christian churches and monasteries. These churches are significant as they represent the fusion of the eastern Orthodox Byzantine and the western Romanesque ecclesiastical architecture. UNESCO has included it as part of its list of endangered sites in 2005.
3. Everglades National Park:
This tourist site is located at the tip of Florida in the United States. Better known as the river of grass flowing imperceptibly from the hinterland into the sea, it has a number of water habitats that make it a sanctuary for large number of birds and reptiles.
The area is quite significant for many reasons. The park is the largest designated sub-tropical wilderness reserve in North American continent. Its juncture, fresh and brackish water, shallow bays and deeper coastal waters further provide complex habitats with high diversity of flora and fauna.
Everglades is equally significant as it is a flat seabed that flooded at the end of the Ice Age. It also contains vast subtropical wetlands and coastal/marine ecosystems which include freshwater marshes, tropical hardwood hammocks and saltwater marshes.
The loss of habitat in the Everglades, alteration of water flow, pollution and human intervention has caused significant damage. 14 endangered species in the area, including the Tiger, are now threatened with extinction.
Hurricane Andrew in 1992 did not help. It caused massive destruction to southern Florida and south central Louisiana. Rain totaled 7 inches and was as high as 11.9 inches in Hammond, LA. Specifically it caused structural damages to the wetlands in Everglades National Park, damaging trees and destroying habitats.
4. Olympia, Greece:
Olympia, Greece is best known as the site of ancient Olympic Games. The ancient Olympic Games were held every 4 years and date back to 776 BC when Theodosius I abolished them as they were considered reminiscent of paganism.
The sanctuary includes a number of buildings in no specific order: temenos, Temple of Hera, Temple of Zeus, the Pelopion and the area of the alter where sacrifices were made.
Lately, the city has been ravaged by wildfires which were caused by rising temperatures. The many remnants of the city are in danger of destruction.
5. Great Pyramid of Giza:
What has this pyramid not survived? The Toronto Star reports that the site survived everything from sandstorms to the anger of kings and even wearing in time. Now after 4 millennia, the site is also endangered of extinction.
Interestingly enough, the pyramid were built as a tomb for the fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharoah Khufu. The pyramid weighs an estimate of 5.9 million tonnes, its thallium (internal hillock) is roughly 2, 500,000 m^3. It remains to this date the tallest man-made structure in the world.
From pollution to camel dung to manmade destruction, the Pyramids of Giza took a large hit. Now officials are forbidding people and tourists from riding their camels are around the pyramids.
6. Bam & its Cultural landscapes:
The 2003 earthquake in 2003 in Bam, Iran has caused severe damage to Bam and its cultural landscapes. 80% of the ancient citadel, Arg-e Bam in Bam now faces endangerment. However, President Khatami announced that it would be rebuilt. Only time will tell if this site can be preserved. I really hope things can be done as this site has a vast history, being built in 500 BC and used until 1850 A.D.
7. Rainforest of the Atsinanana:
The rainforests include 6 national parks which follow along a 1,6000 km strip on the eastern side of Madagascar. The national parks represent the relics of the rainforest which is critical to the survival of biodiversity in the country.
The site has been listed as a World Heritage Site in danger. This is mostly because of illegal logging and hunting of lemurs, which are rarely found in other parts of the world. The situation is no different than Amazon where hunters kill not only animals but native tribes who stand in their way.
8. Great Barrier Reef:
This is the most beautiful underwater wildlife you will ever see. It is one of the top tourist attractions in Australia. More significantly, it can be view from space. Things are looking bleak for the reefs within the last decades or so. The rise in temperatures and acidity has caused scientists to believe that the reefs will die in 20 years or less.
9. Zahara de la Sierra:
Zahara de la Sierra is a small Spanish town in the province of Cadiz. It is famous for Pueblos Blancos as its houses and buildings are surrounded by lush green fields and olive groves. It is a town most famous for dressing in white. This is probably because white symbolizes virginity of the nature. The combined forces of decree in rainfall and rise in temperatures led to a loss in wildlife and the greenery in the city.
This historic town in Yemen is in a deteriorating state and is poorly conserved. It has been listed on World Heritage’s list of endangered sites since 2000. The city is significant as it was the capital of Yemen architecture, as well the site of a historical library containing countless of rare manuscripts and copies of Holy Quran. It also contains more than 86 mosques and Islamic schools, many dating back to the first decade of the first century of Hijra.