Saving our shared heritage

World Heritage sites belong to all of us. We must safeguard the benefits they provide.


Half of natural World Heritage sites are at risk

Half of natural World Heritage sites are at risk

Natural World Heritage sites are some of the planet’s most extraordinary places. We all have a role in protecting the outstanding universal value that they provide for all humanity.

Millions of people directly rely on these places for food, jobs, fresh water and well-being. Shockingly, 114 natural World Heritage sites are under threat from harmful industrial activities like mining, oil and gas drilling, and construction of large-scale infrastructure.

191 UN countries have promised to safeguard World Heritage sites for present and future generations. Too often, though, governments are allowing harmful industrial activities to put these places at risk in pursuit of short-term gains. World Heritage sites can drive long-term sustainable development, but they need protection. Once they’re gone they’re gone forever.

We know it’s possible to protect World Heritage sites. You’ve already helped us remove the most immediate threats to Virunga National Park and the Great Barrier Reef. With your support, we can tackle the problems that are putting precious places at risk.

Doñana: a European haven for wildlife under threat


Millions of birds stop in Doñana National Park when migrating between northern Europe and Africa.

This diverse area is also home to the imperial eagle and endangered Iberian lynx. Already exploited for the once-abundant water of its wetlands, this precious ecosystem is under threat from harmful industrial activities like illegal water use. And that’s not all – a nearby mine which caused an environmental disaster in the past may be reopened.

Selous: Tanzania’s wilderness in danger

Selous: Tanzania’s wilderness in danger

The elephants and rhinos of Selous are under siege.

The Selous World Heritage site is facing severe threats from mining, oil and gas concessions, roads, dams, and industrial-scale poaching. Only a few rhinos are left in the park now, and elephant herds have declined by 90%.

And it’s not just the wildlife that’s at risk. Damage to the reserve means that it could see its visitor numbers decline and local people lose their jobs. Criminal gangs also threaten the safety of rangers and nearby communities.

Belize: Act now to safeguard the reef

Belize: Act now to safeguard the reef

This ecosystem is too valuable to risk. Together we can save it.

More than half of Belize’s population owe their livelihoods to the reef, which is also home to a spectacular array of marine life.

Vast areas of coral and mangroves have been lost already because of damaging coastal construction. Even though Belize’s government has committed to banning oil exploration inside the World Heritage site, it could still be allowed nearby. In the event of a spill, the whole reef would be at risk.

Stronger together

Sign up to the WWF-UK newsletter to receive updates and action alerts.

© 2016 WWF

  • Connect with us
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google Plus
  • Youtube
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn