Close to half of the sites around the world designated for special protection as areas of outstanding importance for nature are at risk from mining and other activities, a new survey has shown.
The sites are supposed to be protected under the United Nations’ designated world heritage status.
But encroachments from industries, including fossil fuel exploration and illegal logging, are threatening to destroy the valuable habitats, the conservation charity WWF says.
At least 114 of the 229 world heritage sites are now subject to fossil fuel extraction concessions, or are under close threat from other industrial activities, according to the report.
Critics have suggested that the UN has not done enough to ensure the protection of the sites that it designates as worthy of special conservation.
The UN is considering providing armed forces to protect sites in particular danger, chiefly from war.