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Mining and oil threatens one in three natural world heritage sites — report

he Nambia sand sea, one of the world heritage sites listed as at risk from oil and gas exploration or mining by the WWF. Photograph: Martin Harvey / Alamy/Alamy

The Nambia sand sea, one of the world heritage sites listed as at risk from oil and gas exploration or mining by the WWF. Photograph: Martin Harvey / Alamy/Alamy

Nearly one in three natural world heritage sites are at risk of exploration for fossil fuels and mining, a report from the conservation charity WWF has found.

The record high of 31% at risk is up from 24% last year. Natural world heritage sites are selected as the most important globally to conserve for reasons of natural beauty or significance, including game reserves, and unique natural features such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

Some are home to species near extinction in the wild, including mountain gorillas, snow leopards and whales. Among those listed at risk are Virunga national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lake Malawi national park, Tanzania’s Selous reserve, Canada’s Wood Buffalo national park and the Danube delta in Romania. Together, world heritage sites currently cover less than 1% of the planet, but the number of designated sites is on the rise.

However, more sites are now in areas that could be opened up to the extraction of oil, gas and mining for minerals and ores, according to the report published on Wednesday called Safeguarding Outstanding Natural Value, and written by WWF, Aviva Investors and Investec Asset Management.

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To learn more about climate adaptation, biodiversity, crops and food supply, see the following ACT reports:

Biodiversity Reports

Crops & Food Supply

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