A third of the world's natural wonders under threat

Font Size:

Around one third of the world’s natural wonders are under threat from climate change, according to a new report published by UNESCO’s World Heritage advisory body the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The report also assessed Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as having a ‘critical’ outlook for the first time.

The third instalment of the IUCN World Heritage Outlook (which builds on previous reports released in 2014 and 2017) tracks whether the conservation of the world’s 252 natural World Heritage sites is sufficient to protect them in the long term.

IUCN director general Bruno Oberle said the latest report found that climate change has overtaken invasive species as the top threat to the world’s natural wonders.

“Natural World Heritage sites are amongst the world’s most precious places, and we owe it to future generations to protect them,” Mr Oberle said.

“The IUCN World Heritage Outlook 3 reveals the damage climate change is wreaking on natural world heritage, from shrinking glaciers to coral bleaching to increasingly frequent and severe fires and droughts. 

“As the international community defines new objectives to conserve biodiversity, this report signals the urgency with which we must tackle environmental challenges together at the planetary scale.”

Among the83 natural World Heritage sites now threatened by climate change is the Great Barrier Reef, where ocean warming, acidification and extreme weather have contributed to dramatic coral decline and, as a result, decreasing populations of marine species.

In the Cape Floral Region protected areas of South Africa, climate change has exacerbated the spread of invasive species, while the Pantanal Conservation Area of Brazil was badly damaged by the unprecedented 2019-2020 wildfires.

In Kluane Lake, located in a world heritage site in Canada and the USA, the rapidly melting Kaskawulsh Glacier has changed the river flow, depleting fish populations.

The IUCN report found that 16 world heritage sites have deteriorated since the last report in 2017, while only eight have improved.

The lower tourism numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, which may have been expected to result in a positive effect, in fact ended up having a negative effect.

The report found that lower tourism numbers meant that many sites suffered significant revenue loss, which resulted in a higher level of illegal activities with fewer staff on hand to prevent this from happening.

Former Australian of the Year Professor Tim Flannery said the report emphasised the very real threat posed by climate change.

“This is yet another warning sign. Climate change is the number one threat to the unique places and wildlife that we as Australians cherish,” he said.

How many of the 252 natural World Heritage listed sites have you visited? Are you worried that some will be destroyed before you get the chance to see them in their prime?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

Join YourLifeChoices today
and get this free eBook!

By joining YourLifeChoices you consent that you have read and agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy


Survey reveals the future of travel

Booking.com reveals the results of its future travel trends survey.

Top 10 most expensive cities in the world

European cities leapfrog past Asian countries as the world's most expensive cities.

Written by Ben


Total Comments: 0



    continue reading


    Tobacco and childcare drive cost of living increase

    The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.9 per cent in the December quarter. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics...

    Age Pension

    Retirement system ‘uncertain for almost all retirees’

    Australia, a nation of almost four million retirees, has one of the world's best retirement systems. The 2020 Mercer CFA...


    The big question: How much do I need to retire?

    Life expectancies continue to rise, and with that comes a host of challenges. For governments, there's the increasing cost to...


    Understanding the true cost of retirement

    The Australian government spends billions on boosting retirement incomes. The two biggest costs, the Age Pension and superannuation tax concessions,...

    Age Pension

    Adequacy of retiree nest eggs

    YourLifeChoices conducts several surveys each year to gauge the financial, physical and mental health of our 260,000 members. The aim...

    Age Pension

    Age Pension payments in 2021 – what you need to know

    World heavyweight boxing champion, Olympian, ordained minister and successful entrepreneur George Foreman returned to the ring at the age of...

    Age Pension

    Services and rebates that can save you hundreds

    Last year, I put together a retiree checklist. In 2021, there are some additions. This is a long list and...

    Age Pension

    Pension rates, PBS entitlements, health fund changes

    YourLifeChoices keeps you up to date with retirement income changes. PBS co-paymentsThe maximum co-payment for general patients for drugs listed...