As the World Heritage Committee meets in Seville, Spain, to choose new sites to be added to UNESCO's World Heritage List, environmental organizations and researchers expressed concern about the state of conservation of those already in the list.
Among the endangered world heritage sites are the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, a wildlife sanctuary in India, and natural reserves in African countries including Ethiopia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Senegal, the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the world's largest global environmental network and the committee's independent advisory body on natural sites, called for a greater effort from governments and civil society to preserve the existing world natural heritage.
"Climate change, uncontrolled tourism, mining, and invasive species are some of the serious threats to our natural heritage," said IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre in a note released ahead of the committee's meeting on June 22. "The global community must invest more in nature conservation in order to protect the world's biodiversity, before it is too late."
Allen Putney, vice-chair for world heritage of IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas, remarked: "More than half the existing World Heritage Sites need more support and resources, to make sure they are managed effectively. We should be focusing much more on protecting the sites that are listed."
The World Heritage Committee will wrap up its meeting on June 30. It will announce the new world heritage sites also on that date.