World Heritage sites to be listed “endangered”?

Unesco debates further protection for tourist sites

Unesco is debating whether some popular sites, such the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, should be listed as endangered. An annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee begins in Doha, Qatar, this week and environmentalists spent the weekend lobbying to gather support to protect certain sites.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority decided in January to issue a permit for the dumping of three million cubic metres of mud on the Queensland coast, within the waters of the Great Barrier Reef.

The dredging would enable transport ships into a certain port, with several companies hoping to use it to export coal reserves. Most of this would be exported to China.

Protesters say the move would lead to 140 million tonnes of dredge spoil being dumped into heritage waters, with 7,000 industrial ships expected to cross the reef each year. The reef is already a listed World Heritage Site, but scientists say it is in decline and needs further protection.

Also up for discussion is an Australian plan to chop down 74,000 hectares of protected Tasmanian forest for timber. The forest is part of a World Heritage Site, but the Australian government wants this revoked.

Unesco is looking at reclassifying other world sites as protected areas, such as the Inca Trail in Peru, the Raani-ki-Vav stepwell in India and the Chauvet Cave paintings in France.

BBC / TTG Digital