Poaching, illegal fishing and deforestation are threatening more than quarter of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, according to a report by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), and the consequences are not just environmental. The report states that 18 out of the 50 threatened sites are in Latin American countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Panama and Peru. It also says the number could be higher because the illegal extraction of species in the region, a business with annual profits of almost US$ 2 billion, is not as well studied as it is in Africa or Asia. In 2016, WWF reported that biodiversity declined 60 per cent on average between 1970 and 2012, and that illegal trade was one of the main engines of species loss. The new report, published in April, warns that if this trend continues, a new wave of extinctions will begin, especially since many of these World Heritage Sites are shelters for endangered plants and animals.
From SciDev Photo Credit John Vlahakis