Natural and cultural heritage sites threatened by climate change: UNESCO


New Delhi: The UN agency UNESCO has warned that the one in three natural sites and one in six cultural heritage sites are currently threatened by climate change.  

“As climate change is one of the defining issues of our time, and among the greatest threats facing cultural and natural UNESCO World Heritage monuments and sites” said the UN agency.

These startling facts revealed by the agency on the International day for Monuments and sites on Monday, under the theme “Heritage and Climate”.

“In recent months and years, the world has witnessed cultural and natural heritage sites threatened by wildfires, floods, storms and mass-bleaching events” it said.

UNESCO’s report, World Heritage forests: Carbon sinks under pressure, reveals that a staggering 60 per cent of World Heritage forests are threatened by climate change-related events.

The new analysis estimates that UNESCO World Heritage forests, which cover 69 million hectares, or roughly twice the size of Germany, hold 13 billion tonnes of carbon (Gt C) in vegetation and soils.

The report estimates that forests across World Heritage sites removed approximately 190 million tonnes of CO2 per year between 2001 and 2020 from the atmosphere.

The agency said the marine sites are equally under pressure, with two-thirds of these vital carbon stores, home to 15 per cent of global blue carbon assets currently experiencing high risks of degradation, according to the UNESCO Marine World Heritage: Custodians of the globe’s blue carbon assets study.

And if no action is taken, coral may disappear at natural heritage sites by the end of this century.

“Our strengthened collaboration with partners and Member States to address the growing need for enhanced monitoring of the impact of climate change on UNESCO World Heritage through more accurate and relevant data has been critical, as well as our efforts to leverage global platforms, including the Urban Heritage Climate Observatory,” the UN agency said.


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