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  • Monarch butterflies in Mexico

    Monarch butterflies in Mexico's monarch reserve. (Photo: RevolucionTresPuntoCero) | Photo: RevolucionTresPuntoCero

UNESCO’s danger-list includes Mexico’s butterfly reserve and elephants and serves as a call to conservation of world heritage sites.

For the first time, the International Union for the Conservation of Natural Resources (IUNCN) has evaluated 228 areas classified by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as Natural World Heritage Sites.

The agency came out with a report “Perspective of World Heritage Sites” that indicates 21 percent of the locations studied have a “good” chance of conservation, 42 percent present “a good outlook of conservation but with some concern” and 8 percent have been assessed as “critical.”   

“World Heritage sites have the most prestigious international designation and those who manage them should demonstrate exemplary leadership for all protected areas,” Julia Marton Lefevre, Director General of IUCN said in a statement. “Thanks to the IUCN World Heritage Outlook, we can see which sites have been successfully conserved and encourage the World Heritage Convention to secure the long-term protection of all the sites under its umbrella.”

The natural World Patrimony includes the most important protected areas as designated by the UNESCO, and until today, only half of those areas had been regularly monitored and evaluated by the World Patrimony Convention of the U.N. body.

Nineteen of the natural heritage sites examined in the UNESCO report have critical outlook and need urgent, large-scale intervention to protect them. The UNESCO World Heritage sites that are ‘in danger’ include the Selous Game Reserve, where poaching has dramatically reduced the number of elephants.

But not all sites that are threatened are listed by UNESCO as facing danger, such as Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, which is being threatened by deforestation and agricultural activities.

But nevertheless, the UNESCO danger-lists are an appeal for intervention.

“World Heritage stands for excellence in management and the new World Heritage Outlook is a call for action so that all listed sites unequivocally demonstrate the best in conservation,” Cyril Kormos, Vice Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas said.   

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