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Nine global NGOs call for ban on mining in World Heritage sites

The Frankfurt Zoological Society joins forces with 8 other world-leading conservation organisations to call for urgent action to protect natural and mixed UNESCO World Heritage sites from industrial mining, oil and gas activities. A joint ‘no-go’ and ‘no-impact’ statement was presented at the IUCN World Parks Congress yesterday in Sydney, Australia.

Stieglers Gorge, Selous
Stiegler's Gorge in the Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania. The Selous is a high profile example where extractive activities have threatened a World Heritage Site.

(18 November 2014)

UNESCO natural and cultural World Heritage Sites are recognised as being of outstanding universal value to humanity. Natural World Heritage Sites are the flagships of the global network of protected areas.

 

Despite international recognition as flagship protected areas, the growing demand for natural resources has meant that around a quarter of natural World Heritage Sites are now under threat from commercial mining, oil or gas exploration or extraction in and around their borders.

 

The resulting environmental impacts, which include deforestation, topsoil contamination and water pollution, may not only lead to loss of status as a World Heritage Site but, more importantly, potentially irreversible habitat and species loss that will have wide-ranging repercussions for generations to come.

 

Joint forces

 

The Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) has therefore joined forces with 8 other world-leading conservation organisations (African Wildlife Foundation, Fauna & Flora International, Zoological Society London, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Nature Conservancy, The WILD Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF) to call for urgent action to protect natural and mixed UNESCO World Heritage Sites from industrial mining, oil and gas activities. A joint ‘no-go’ and ‘no-impact’ statement was presented at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, yesterday.

 

 "Oil, gas and mineral exploration and exploitation is incompatible with a World Heritage status. While a number of companies and industry groups in the mining, oil/gas and finance sectors have committed to no-go policies of varying scope for World Heritage sites, many other companies have yet to make such a pledge. Urgent action is required to stop the trend of increasing encroachment of extractive industries on natural World Heritage Sites", says Dr Chrisof Schenck, CEO of Frankfurt Zoological Society.

 

With their joint statement the NGOs support the IUCN position on extractive activities in and around natural and mixed World Heritage Sites, calling for the States Parties to the World Heritage Convention to fulfill their obligations regarding the preservation of these important properties. 

 

High profile examples where extractive activities have threatened World Heritage Sites include Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, the Virgin Komi Forests in Russia and the Belize Barrier Reef System. 

Joint NGO statement

Download the Joint NGO statement on no-go and no-impact measures for extractive activities in natural and mixed World Heritage sites (PDF)