"UNESCO Urges Vigilance in Safeguarding World Heritage Sites as Vital Sanctuaries for Endangered Species"

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"UNESCO Urges Vigilance in Safeguarding World Heritage Sites as Vital Sanctuaries for Endangered Species"

"UNESCO Urges Vigilance in Safeguarding World Heritage Sites as Vital Sanctuaries for Endangered Species"

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), headquartered in Paris, emphasized that some of the world's most iconic natural and cultural sites serve as vital sanctuaries for numerous endangered species.

Although the sites protected under the World Heritage Convention occupy less than one percent of Earth's surface, they host more than 20 percent of the planet's biodiversity, according to recent research conducted jointly by UNESCO and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

In light of climate change and the escalating threat of species extinction, UNESCO called upon the 195 States party to the treaty to intensify their efforts to safeguard these invaluable sites.

"These 1,157 sites are not only of profound historical and cultural significance but are also indispensable for preserving Earth's diverse life forms, sustaining essential ecosystem functions, and combating the disruption caused by climate change," stated Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO.

UNESCO World Heritage sites, which range from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia to the Great Wall of China, shelter more than 75,000 plant and tree species and over 30,000 species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians.

These sites are estimated to safeguard over 20,000 endangered species, including a substantial portion of the global populations of elephants, tigers, pandas, great apes, lions, and rhinos.

For certain species like the Javan Rhinos, Pink Iguanas, Sumatran Orangutans, and Mountain Gorillas, these sites represent their last hope for survival against extinction.

The World Heritage Convention grants the highest level of international protection to these sites, distributed across 167 countries. Since its inception in 1972, the treaty has facilitated successful conservation efforts, such as the ones in India's Kaziranga National Park and Nepal's Chitwan National Park, where the number of Greater one-horned Rhinos has doubled to approximately 4,000 since the mid-1980s.

Nevertheless, UNESCO emphasized the immediate need to reinforce conservation measures, cautioning that time is running out. A mere 1°C increase in global temperatures could potentially double the number of endangered species facing perilous climatic conditions.

"The irreplaceable role of UNESCO World Heritage sites as biodiversity hotspots necessitates unwavering protection by the Convention's State Parties," declared the agency.

UNESCO encouraged nations to prioritize World Heritage sites within their national biodiversity strategies and action plans, in accordance with a global agreement established the previous year. The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework seeks to halt and reverse the loss of nature by setting targets, including the protection of 30 percent of the planet's lands, coastal regions, and inland waters by the end of the decade.

UNESCO also announced its commitment to training all World Heritage site managers in climate change adaptation strategies by 2025, with the aim of implementing climate adaptation plans at all sites by 2029.

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