Everglades National Park was listed as a UNESCO endangered place due to its continued aquatic degradation. Sarah and Jason/Flickr
In contrast to the controversial decision to remove "World Heritage in Danger" status from Ecuador's Galapagos Islands, UNESCO has announced a list of natural sites that will now receive the designation.
Topping the list are two protected areas in the United States: Everglades National Park and Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.The Everglades were first placed on UNESCO's endangered list in 1993 after Hurricane Andrew caused significant damage in the region. It was removed in 2007 in recognition of the efforts made to restore the park.
However, according to UNESCO, the Everglades must once again be considered an imperiled piece of natural heritage "because of serious and continuing degradation of its aquatic ecosystem."
A reef in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Image credit: AP Photo/Louiz Rocha, Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
UNESCO also named the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument a World Heritage Site, honoring it for its unique cultural and natural significance. Haunani Apoliona, chair of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees, commented that:
This inscription, a first natural and cultural inscription for Hawaii, and a first inscription in 15 years for the United States, elevates Hawaii in the eyes of the world and underscores our responsibility to protect our culturally, naturally and spiritually significant places for future generations, as our ancestors would want.
Though the monument is already one of the world's largest marine reserves, "UNESCO's designation of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument as a World Heritage Site," Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle explained, "confirms what the people of Hawaii have known for generations about this exceptional environmental and cultural treasure."
Management of both the Everglades and Papahanaumokuakea will remain in the hands of various United States entities currently overseeing their protection. The United States, however, will be required to provide regular reports on the conservation status of the Everglades in accordance with its new endangered heritage site status.
Papahanaumokuakea, on the other hand, will be protected from one of the side effects of World Heritage Site listing: A massive influx of tourists. A permitting system, which is already in place, will be used to control the crowds.
Read more about endangered places:
Galapagos Islands Moved Off Endangered Sites List
Should The Galapagos Be Taken Off The Endangered Sites List?
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7 Endangered Animals Cute Enough for Celebrities to Save
Four Worst Places to be an Endangered Species