Historic centre of Shakhrisabz, Uzbekistan (gocomparetravel.com)
List Words : Wanderlust team | 17 November

10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites under threat – and how you can help to save them

Designed to raise awareness and spur people into action, these posters highlight the most endangered UNESCO sites around the world – from the rainforest of Sumatra to Bethlehem and beyond

1: Belize Barrier Reef, Belize

Belize Barrier Reef, Belize (gocomparetravel.com)

Belize Barrier Reef, Belize (gocomparetravel.com)

The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest in the northern hemisphere, and comprises of protected sand banks, mangrove forests, and coastal lagoons. As well as being home to many threatened marine creatures such as the West Indian manatee and loggerhead turtle, bird colonies such as the red-footed booby are also present on the atolls outside the reef. 

The threat: Due to selling and leasing public lands within the area, the reef is facing destruction of its mangrove and marine ecosystems.

2: Tropical rainforest heritage of Sumatra, Indonesia

Tropical rainforest heritage of Sumatra, Indonesia (gocomparetravel.com)

Tropical rainforest heritage of Sumatra, Indonesia (gocomparetravel.com)

Comprising three national parks (Gunung Leuser National Park, Kerinci Seblat National Park and Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park), the Tropical Rainforest Heritage area of Sumatra is recognised for its beauty and biodiversity. The site is home to an estimated 10,000 plant species, 465 resident bird species, and over 200 species of mammal (15 of which can only be found in the Indonesian region).

The threat: The area is currently at risk due to several factors, including road development plans and agricultural encroachment. The area is further threatened by illegal poaching and logging activity.

3: Maritime Mercantile City, England

Maritime Mercantile City, England (gocomparetravel.com)

Maritime Mercantile City, England (gocomparetravel.com)

The Maritime Mercantile City in Liverpool represents the city’s pioneering role in developing modern dock technology, transport systems, port management, and warehouse construction. The port became key to global trading and cultural connections throughout the British Empire. The site includes Albert Dock, which remains a major tourist attraction today. 

The threat: The area is considered in danger due to urban development projects and lack of management.

4: Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works, Chile

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works, Chile (gocomparetravel.com)

Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works, Chile (gocomparetravel.com)

Situated in the region of Tarapacá in northern Chile, The Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works dates back to the 1800s. Thousands of workers lived here during the first half of the 19th century, including labourers from Chile, Peru and Bolivia. It's recognised for its historical and cultural significance, highlighting the communal pampino culture of the time. 

The threat: Due to the infrastructure's fragility and tough weather conditions, the site is vulnerable to damage from earthquakes and heavy wind. The site has also been subject to looting, and significant material and memorabilia have already been lost.

5: Everglades National Park, USA

Everglades National Park, USA (gocomparetravel.com)

Everglades National Park, USA (gocomparetravel.com)

The Everglades National Park is the largest tropical wilderness in North America. It consists of shallow bays and deeper coastal waters as well as fresh water, making it a phenomenal habitat for different types of flora and fauna. It was the first national park to be protected due to its fragile ecosystem, as it's also home to 36 threatened species and provides a vital breeding habitat for more than 400 species of birds. 

The threat: The Everglades is deemed in danger due to the deterioration of its aquatic ecosystem. This is largely due to changing quantity, timing and distribution of the currents in the Shark River lowering water levels due to urban and agricultural growth, and pollution from upstream agricultural activities.

6: Church of the Nativity, Palestine

Church of the Nativity, Palestine (gocomparetravel.com)

Church of the Nativity, Palestine (gocomparetravel.com)

The Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, Palestine, has been recognised by Christian tradition as the biblical birthplace of Jesus since around the second century. The original church of 339 AD was burned down in the sixth century and a new basilica was built which included the intricate floor mosaics of the first church, and new additions such as its famous bell towers. The basilica is built above the location considered the spot of Christ’s birth, and parts of the original church’s remains – which survive below ground – were arranged in a way which gave people a view of the cave where Jesus was born. 

The threat: Today, the basilica is under threat due to urbanisation in the surrounding area, as well as suffering from degradation.

7: Rainforests of the Atsinanana, Madagascar

Rainforests of the Atsinanana, Madagascar (gocomparetravel.com)

Rainforests of the Atsinanana, Madagascar (gocomparetravel.com)

Situated on the island of Madagascar, the Rainforests of the Atsinanana represent six national parks spread across the eastern region of the country. The forests are known for their unique biodiversity as well as being the home to various rare and threatened species such as lemurs. 

The threat: There are threats of agricultural encroachment and resource exploitation from logging, hunting, and gem mining.

8: Chan Chan Archaeological Zone, Peru

Chan Chan Archaeological Zone, Peru (gocomparetravel.com)

Chan Chan Archaeological Zone, Peru (gocomparetravel.com)

Before the Chimu Kingdom fell to the Incas, Chan Chan was its thriving capital. The Chan Chan Archaeological Zone consists of nine large, rectangular complexes which are split by tall, thick, earthen walls. Within them sit various buildings such as storehouses, temples and homes. The walls were often covered with decorative friezes which represented abstract themes and also featured anthropomorphic and zoomorphic imagery. 

The threat: Due to its fragile earthen infrastructure and the extreme environmental conditions of the area, Chan Chan is highly vulnerable to deterioration and decay. The site is also under threat due to illegal farming practices.

9: Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania (gocomparetravel.com)

Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania (gocomparetravel.com)

The Selous Game Reserve in the south of Tanzania is one of the biggest wilderness areas in Africa. The reserve is recognised for being a tropical sanctuary where predator and prey dwell together, including elephants, cheetahs, giraffes and crocodiles. The 50,000km² area also has diverse vegetation, most notably the Miombo woodlands. 

The threat: The reserve is considered to be in danger due to lack of financial resources and sustainable management. Moreover, illegal activities such as poaching have caused a massive decline in wildlife populations across the reserve.

10: Historic centre of Shakhrisabz, Uzbekistan

Historic centre of Shakhrisabz, Uzbekistan (gocomparetravel.com)

Historic centre of Shakhrisabz, Uzbekistan (gocomparetravel.com)

Once a star of the ancient Silk Road in southern Uzbekistan, Shakhrisabz was established during the rule of Amir Temur and the Timurids in the 15th century. The centre is recognised for its historic monuments and constructions, which are of great cultural and political significance. The centre is over 2,000 years old and has a variety of architectural styles, giving it a unique character. 

The threat: The site is currently at risk due to the lack of a comprehensive conservation and management plan. The area has also seen a surge in commercial development which has resulted in demolition and re-building.

These posters are part of a project designed to celebrate these locations, and raise awareness of their transient nature and the threats they face. It was sponsored by GoCompare Travel, in conjunction with UNESCO.