Saving World Heritage Sites from Climate Change

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Climate change is an ever expanding issue across the globe today as experts have begun to track the effects of environmental damage into other areas of life. As many countries have already seen, drought, flooding or more severe natural disasters can cause massive disruptions in agriculture and therefore the economy. This is not to mention the effects on human and animal settlements and migration patterns. However, as conditions have progressed throughout the years, vital cultural and archaeological heritage sites are in growing danger.

Developing nations such as Kenya and Mali have been the subject of many UNESCO case studies in order to find ways to preserve their sites before any irreparable damage is done. For while economic and agricultural damage are massive concerns, the maintenance of cultural heritage sites is critical to attracting tourist income as well as preserving the roots of some of the world’s oldest civilizations. These ancient structures and geographical areas were established to withstand the climate conditions of their age. However as temperatures, rainfall patterns and and species migration changes, these treasures are beginning to wear away.

According to UNESCO, climate change can cause peoples in these critically affected areas to change the way they live, worship and order their societies. Oftentimes that can often result in their, “migrating and abandoning their built heritage.” In order to remedy this situation, research efforts are underway to help these developing nations save their culture.

On the bright side, a successful project has already been completed in the Peruvian Andes in December of last year. Through establishing an education and teacher training initiative, over 4,4000 students and 60 teachers worked to undertake conservation projects and motivate the community to take ownership of their heritage sites in the location. UNESCO hopes that the expansion of similar initiatives will help to preserve these international treasures and increase the quality of life in developing and impoverished countries.

Morgan Forde
Source: UNESCO
Photo: Life Beyond Tourism

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