Documents Informational materials

Booklet "Last ice area - Potential Transnational World Heritage Property"


This is one of a series of research resources commissioned by WWF to help inform future management of the Area we call the Last Ice Area (LIA). We call it that because the title refers to the area of summer sea ice in the Arctic that is projected to last. As climate change eats away at the rest of the Arctic’s summer sea ice, climate and ice modellers believe that the ice will remain above Canada’s High Arctic Islands, and above Northern Greenland for many more decades.

Much life has evolved together with the ice. Creatures from tiny single celled animals to seals and walrus, polar bears and whales, depend to some extent on the presence of ice. This means the areas where sea ice remains may become very important to this ice-adapted life in future.

One of my colleagues suggested we should have called the project the Lasting Ice Area. I agree, although it’s a bit late to change the name now, that name better conveys what we want to talk about. While much is changing, and is likely to change around the Arctic, this is the place that is likely to change the least. That is also meaningful for the people who live around the fringes of this area – while people in other parts of the Arctic may be forced to change and adapt as summer sea ice shrinks, the people around the LIA may not have to change as much.

As a conservation organization, WWF does not oppose all change. Our goal is to help maintain important parts of the natural world, parts that are important just because they exist, and important for people. WWF does not have the power and authority to impose its vision on people. Instead, we try to present evidence through research, and options for action. It is then up to the relevant authorities as to whether they will take action or not; the communities, the Inuit organizations, and the governments of the Last Ice Area will decide its future fate. We hope you will find the information in these reports useful, and that it will help you in making wise decisions about the future of the Last Ice Area.

In this particular document, we are responding to the lead of the Arctic Council’s Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna working group, which suggested that a World Heritage site spanning the resilient ice area of Canada and Greenland should be considered by the respective governments, and a discussion document by the Inuit Circumpolar Council that identified a World Heritage Site as an international management option for LIA that would best meet Inuit interests.

Clive Tesar, Last Ice Area lead.

Adopted on November 16, 1972, the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage is the most efficient and representative among existing nature conservation conventions and programs. The primary purpose of the Convention is to unite the efforts of the international community to identify, protect and provide comprehensive support to cultural monuments and natural objects of Outstanding Universal Value.

Established in 1976, the World Heritage List represents both diverse regions on our planet and a number of specific properties. Many natural properties of worldwide renown are protected under the World Heritage Convention, including the Great Barrier Reef, Galapagos Islands, Lake Baikal, Grand Canyon, Mount Kilimanjaro, Victoria and Iguazu Falls.

World Heritage status brings with it numerous advantages, both in terms of nature conservation and in garnering comprehensive support for territories inscribed on the World Heritage List. World Heritage Convention offers its States Parties and their inscribed sites broad legal, informational, economic, and networking opportunities, which have been developing and improving for more than four decades.

Benefits of World Heritage Status for Natural World Heritage Sites:

• Additional guarantees of the full preservation and integrity of unique natural areas.

• Increase in the prestige of natural areas and the institutions governing them.

• Increase in the popularity of territories inscribed on the World Heritage List.

• Greater capacity to attract financial support for World Heritage sites.

• Development of alternative types of natural resource use, including ecological tourism and traditional trades.

• Organization of monitoring and inspection of conservation activities in natural areas.

Untouched by economic activities and significant in size, the natural World Heritage properties represent a valuable and important strategic natural reserve of humankind. The fact of a unique voluntary contribution of any state into a joint “bank of nature of humanity” positively affects the state’s image (Butorin, 2011).

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pdf Booklet "Last ice area - Potential Transnational World Heritage Property"