Designated Heritage Sites Under Threat From Resource Exploration

The exploration for natural resources is posing a significant threat to Natural World Heritage Sites in Africa. More than 60% of heritage sites approved by the United Nations in Africa are under threat because of such exploration.

Additionally, almost one-third of heritage sites worldwide are in danger from resource exploration.

A report from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) stated, “Our research shows that intrusion into natural World Heritage Sites is especially high in Africa, where 61% of these precious areas are subject to some form of extractive concession or activity.”

According to the report, the extraction of natural resources takes place at 25 of 41 Africans World Heritage Sites. Meanwhile, 70 of 229 designated World Heritage Sites are facing a similar threat worldwide.

CEO of the WWF in Great Britain David Nussbaum said, “We are going to the ends of the earth in pursuit of more resources. (Natural resources) are becoming more difficult and more expensive to extract.”

The report goes on to ask investors to help protect natural heritage sites by investing only in companies that conduct business responsibly.

The WWF cites the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania as one of the few remaining African World Heritage Sites that has been mostly untampered. The wildlife reserve was designated as a national heritage site in 1982.

However, legislation that was passed in 2009 permitted the extraction of resources from inside the Tanzanian wildlife reserve. Since that time, five active mines and six oil and gas extraction sites have appeared in the area. There were also a slew of more than 50 additional mining sites in the area that were once active in the region at one point or another.
“The reserve was added to the World Heritage danger list in 2014 in part due to concerns regarding extractive activities within the reserve,” said the report.

Unless humans make stronger efforts to protect the environment, heritage sites may become a thing of the past.