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Wednesday, July 4, 2012


CASTRIES, St Lucia, Monday, July 2, 2012 – The St Lucia Pitons has escaped being added to the World Heritage Danger List by the World Heritage Committee.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, had recommended that Pitons Management Area in the Caribbean island nation of Saint Lucia, along with Lake Turkana National Parks in Kenya, the Dja Faunal Reserve in Cameroon, and the Virgin Komi Forests in Russia, be added to the List of World Heritage in Danger.

However, the committee, meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, until July 6, has rejected all four recommendations.

"We are disappointed that the committee has not inscribed any of these threatened sites on the List of World Heritage in Danger this year," said Tim Badman, director of IUCN's World Heritage Programme.

"These four sites face significant threats to their values, from threats including major infrastructure projects, the extractive industry and property speculation," said Badman.

According to the IUCN, the Pitons Management Area in Saint Lucia has been subjected to significant development since its inscription on the World Heritage List in 2004, and development threats risk irreversible loss of its outstanding universal value.

Recognizable for its two eroded remnants of lava domes rising from the sea to heights greater than 700 meters, Pitons Management Area includes a geothermal field with sulphurous fumeroles and hot springs. The forested spires contain eight rare tree species. The larger one is inhabited by some 27 bird species, five of them found nowhere else on Earth.

Coral reefs cover almost 60 percent of the site's marine area, which is inhabited by 168 species of finfish.

Badman said, "Inscription on the Danger List is not a black mark for countries, but a way of drawing attention and providing support to the sites that need it the most."

A UNESCO agency, the World Heritage Committee identifies cultural and natural properties of Outstanding Universal Value that are to be protected under the treaty protecting World Cultural and Natural Heritage and inscribes those properties on the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger.

The World Heritage Fund provides about US$4 million annually to support activities requested by governments in need of international assistance. The World Heritage Committee allocates funds according to the urgency of requests, priority being given to the most threatened sites.

The committee is composed of representatives from 21 governments that are Parties to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.

At the 2012 meeting they are: Algeria, Cambodia, Colombia, Estonia, Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Iraq, Japan, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Qatar, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand and United Arab Emirates.

The World Heritage List includes 951 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers to have outstanding universal value.

These include 739 cultural sites, 183 natural sites and 29 mixed cultural-natural properties in 155 countries. As of March 2012, 189 of the world's 193 governments had ratified the World Heritage Convention.


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