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World Heritage Committee makes changes on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Yesterday, June 30, the World Heritage Committee holding its 34th session (25.07-03.08, Brasilia) chaired by Joao Luiz da Silva Ferreira, the Minister of Culture of Brazil, has inscribed the Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Madagascar) on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of illegal logging and hunting of endangered lemurs on the site and also inscribed the Everglades National Park (United States) on the List of World Heritage in Danger, because of serious and continuing degradation of its aquatic ecosystem. Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) are removed from the List.

The Committee urged the Madagascar to take all necessary measures to enforce the decree and halt illegal logging activities. It also encouraged the State Party to organise a high level meeting of countries concerned to ensure that illegal timber originating from Madagascar is both banned and prevented from entering their national markets.

The inscription of the Everglades National Park was made at the request of the United States. It's the second time the Everglades has been included on the List of World Heritage in Danger. It was first inscribed in 1993 following damage caused by Hurricane Andrew and a marked deterioration in water flows and quality resulting from agricultural and urban development. It was removed from the Danger List in 2007, in recognition of efforts to restore the Park and its wider ecosystem.

However, the degradation of the site has continued. Water inflows have been reduced by up to 60 percent and nutrient pollution increased to the point where the site is showing significant signs of eutrophication, loss of marine habitat and a subsequent decline in marine species.

The United States also requested that experts from UNESCO's World Heritage Centre and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) visit the property in 2010 to evaluate its state of conservation and assist in the development of a desired state of conservation with a view to removing the property from the Danger List as quickly as possible. The World Heritage Committee commended the State Party's initiative in requesting the inscription of the site on the List of Sites in Danger, and encouraged the United States to continue corrective measures to restore and preserve the property.

The day before, 29.07.2010, the World Heritage Committee decided to remove the Galapagos Islands from the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Galapagos Islands, which have been called a unique "living museum and showcase of evolution" were inscribed on the Danger List in 2007 because of threats posed by invasive species, unbridled tourism and over-fishing.

The Committee found that significant progress had been made by Ecuador in addressing these problems. It welcomed the Government's continuing efforts to strengthen conservation measures, especially in dealing with introduced species.  

Sources: http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/639, http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/638, http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/636