Everglades Removed From World Heritage Committee Danger List

Monday, June 25th 2007, 10:11 am
By: News On 6

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) _ Florida's Everglades National Park and a rain forest reserve in Honduras have been removed from the U.N.'s list of endangered world cultural sites after improvements in conservation programs, UNESCO announced Monday.

The World Heritage Committee commended the United States ``for its investment of scientific and financial resources to rehabilitate'' the Everglades, which was placed on the World Heritage List in 1979 and put on the danger list in 1993.

The Everglades, a sanctuary for a large number of birds and reptiles, including threatened species such as the manatee, had been threatened by urban growth and pollution, as well as by the damage caused to Florida Bay in 1992 by Hurricane Andrew.

The committee also welcomed corrective measures taken by Honduran authorities to preserve the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve, placed on the World Heritage List in 1982 and on the danger list in 1996.

``These corrective measures ... were destined to relieve the site of encroachment by agriculture, timber trade and hunting,'' the committee said.

Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve is one of the few remaining tropical rain forests in Central America, home to an abundant variety of plants and wildlife.

Rio Platano also is home to 2,000 indigenous people, whose traditional lifestyles are threatened by encroaching settlements and agricultural development.

Meeting for its 31st session in the southern New Zealand city of Christchurch, the committee is reviewing the state of conservation at the 830 sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

Prior to the removal of the Everglades and Rio Planato Biosphere Reserve, 31 sites were on the danger list _ sites threatened by a variety of problems such as natural disasters, pillaging, pollution and poorly managed mass tourism.

The world's top cultural body will consider at the meeting whether to add Ecuador's Galapagos Islands and the Tower of London to its in danger list _ the first because tourism is threatening its environment, the second because of encroaching development.

Delegates will also consider applications to add at least 45 new sites _ including the Sydney Opera House in Australia _ to the World Heritage list.

To be considered are 11 natural sites, 32 cultural sites, and two ``mixed'' sites, the committee said. It declined to give details of sites up for consideration.