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Lay of the Land

Wind-power Politics | Roads to Nowhere | Consumer-product pollutants | Columbia River Swimmer | Pinstripes Against Pollution | UNESCO's Danger List | Bold Strokes | WWatch | Updates

Endangered Danger List

Though it was Richard Nixon who signed the World Heritage Convention in 1972, many U.S. conservatives have become suspicious of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Some even fear that these internationally recognized places of outstanding cultural or natural significance threaten national sovereignty. Now Australia, the United States, and several other nations are seeking to stop UNESCO from declaring that such sites are "in danger" without the say-so of the country where the site is located.

In the past, placement on UNESCO’s danger list has helped prevent a shopping center next to Auschwitz and a giant gold mine a mile from Yellowstone National Park. Australia, however, was upset by an attempt to use an "in danger" declaration to publicize a proposed uranium mine in its Kakadu National Park, and has found the Bush administration a ready ally in efforts to weaken the World Heritage Convention. The administration is also seeking to remove Yellowstone from the danger list, even though the park’s bison are still being slaughtered, and snowmobile use is expanding. –Paul Rauber

For more on World Heritage, see www.iucn.org/themes/wcpa.

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