IUCN World Heritage Outlook 2: A conservation assessment of all natural World Heritage sites

The number of natural World Heritage sites threatened by climate change has grown from 35 to 62 in just three years, with climate change being the fastest growing threat they face, according to a report released by IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, at the UN climate change conference in Bonn, Germany. The IUCN World Heritage Outlook 2 – an update of the 2014 IUCN World Heritage Outlook report – assesses, for the first time, changes in the conservation prospects of all 241 natural World Heritage sites. It examines the threats, protection and management of the sites, and the state of their World Heritage values – the unique features which have earned them their prestigious World Heritage status. According to the assessments, climate change impacts, such as coral bleaching and glacier loss, affect a quarter of all sites – compared to one in seven sites in 2014 – and place coral reefs and glaciers among the most threatened ecosystems. Other ecosystems, such as wetlands, low-lying deltas, permafrost and fire sensitive ecosystems are also affected. The report warns that the number of natural World Heritage sites affected by climate change is likely to grow further, as climate change remains the biggest potential threat to natural world heritage.

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