The Everglades, Madagascar and the Galapagos

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel news

As one goes off another returns.
Last week, in Brasilia, UNESCO met to approve a new list of additions to its World Heritage Register. There were lots of additions and announcements and we’ll have a fuller review after the meeting is over on Tuesday.. There are two announcements though, about places that nearly everyone will know.
Sad to relate that the Florida Everglades have returned to being listed as endangered on the UNESCO list of heritage sites in danger. In addition the tropical forests of Madagascar have been added as well. But the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu have been taken off as UNESCO views the efforts by Ecuador and Peru to safeguard them as succeeding.
The everglades were removed from the endangered list in 2007. In only 3 years things have deteriorated so that they have been re-instated. And part of the reason is us: the visitor. We have a wish to see things. That wish seems to intensify if it is unique, unusual or rarely available. So we go to the Antarctic, to Machu Picchu, the everglades and the Galapagos Islands. The Peruvian and Ecuadorian governments restrict the number of visitors to try and protect the fragility of what remains. In both cases, some sort of control is relatively easy to enforce. The everglades are a different case. They cover a more widespread area, people can enter from different points and the water systems can be easily influenced. That water is being diverted to cities and towns and that is why the US government has requested their being placed on the list. As visitors come, there are greater demands on water supplies and things to do. There is now a proposal to build a visitor centre within the everglades. Yes, it will help the visitors understand but it could make matters worse because it will attract more of them. The same old story; balancing human needs with the landscape.
The same is true in Madagascar. The reason for the inclusion of the forest is because of illegal logging and poaching. Armed bandits patrol the areas scaring the conservationists and making live difficult. Will being put on a register help at all? I suppose the only answer is to see what matters are like in a year or two.

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