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IUCN advises Sundarbans be classified as ‘World Heritage in danger’

  • Published at 12:03 pm June 15th, 2019
File photo Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

They have recommended the same for World Heritage sites in Mexico and North Macedonia  

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the official advisor on natural World Heritage, has recommended three natural sites—including the Sundarbans in Bangladesh—be classified as "World Heritage in danger." 

The other two sites are Mexico's Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California and the Ohrid region in North Macedonia, reports UNB.

IUCN's advice was released on June 7 by UNESCO and is addressed to the World Heritage Committee— the governing body on World Heritage made up of 21 governments—according to IUCN.

The Committee will make a final decision on the status of these sites at its annual meeting in Azerbaijan from 30 June to 10 July.

IUCN recommends the Sundarbans in Bangladesh receive the status of World Heritage in danger due to severe threats from coal-fired power plants and numerous industrial activities in close proximity to the natural site.

The site is part of the world's largest mangrove forest and the royal Bengal tiger.

Following a joint IUCN-UNESCO mission in 2016, the World Heritage Committee called for the large Rampal power plant project—planned 65km from the site—to be cancelled and relocated. Despite this, its construction has continued without any assessment of its impact on the Sundarbans' World Heritage values.

Two additional coal-fired power plants are being constructed on the Payra River, which flows into the same bay as the Sundarbans, IUCN said.

Over 150 industrial projects are also active upstream of the site, and their associated shipping and dredging activities further threaten its hydrological and ecological dynamics. The hydrological systems, which drive this dynamics, are very large in scale and vulnerable to upstream impacts.

Sixteen natural World Heritage sites are listed as in danger. For this year's World Heritage Committee meeting, IUCN has provided recommendations for about 60 natural World Heritage sites facing threats, and has evaluated 10 sites nominated as potential new sites.

IUCN is the official advisory body on nature under the World Heritage Convention. IUCN evaluates sites nominated for the World Heritage List and monitors the state of conservation of listed sites.

IUCN aims to improve the management of World Heritage sites and enhance the role of the World Heritage Convention in nature conservation and sustainable development.

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