• Dr. Susan Lieberman, WCS Vice President, International Policy

  • WCS Works Globally to Maintain the Integrity of 32 World Heritage Natural Sites

Sydney, Australia (November 18, 2014)— The Wildlife Conservation Society and eight leading international conservation organizations (African Wildlife Foundation, Fauna & Flora International, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Nature Conservancy, The WILD Foundation, WWF, and the Zoological Society of London) are calling for governments to ensure they do not allow commercial extractive activities – including oil and gas extraction and mining—in World Heritage Natural Sites.

The joint ‘no-go’ and ‘no-impact’ statement will be presented at the IUCN World Parks Congress today in Sydney, Australia.

World Heritage natural sites are facing multiple threats, including from commercial extractive activities (mining, gas and oil exploration).

The resulting environmental impacts, which include wildlife population declines, deforestation, topsoil contamination and water pollution, may lead to loss of status as a World Heritage site, and more importantly, potentially irreversible habitat and species losses that will have wide-ranging repercussions.

The following statement was released by Dr. Susan Lieberman, WCS Vice President, International Policy:

“We need to join together to ensure the integrity of World Heritage Sites. These sites are ‘the jewel in the crown’ of parks on a global scale. We need to celebrate the amazing biological diversity and ecological integrity of these special places. At the World Parks Congress this week, one of the key issues is the undisputable value of parks, which include World Heritage Sites.

“The government Parties to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention have agreed that these special places are of outstanding universal value, and these extractive industries are incompatible with World Heritage status. At WCS, we know from our work on-the-ground in 32 World Heritage Sites around the world, assisting our government partners, that the World Heritage Convention is one of our best tools to help ensure the protection of our planet’s flora, fauna and ecosystems.”

John Delaney (1-347-675-2294; jdelaney@wcs.org)
Mary Dixon (1-347-840-1242; mdixon@wcs.org)
Stephen Sautner (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)

Editors’ Notes
Unesco World Heritage Sites
UNESCO natural and cultural World Heritage sites are recognised as being of Outstanding Universal Value to humanity. Natural World Heritage sites are the flagships of the global network of protected areas. Although they cover less than 1% of the world’s surface, they contain a wealth of irreplaceable flora, fauna and ecosystems that the international community has committed to safeguard for future generations.

No-go and no-impact policies
A no-go policy refers to the public commitment by a company to not carry out or support extractives activities in a World Heritage site. Commitments by companies currently vary widely between specific industry sectors, type of activities, area of coverage, type of site and degree of responsibility. A no-impact policy refers to the parallel industry commitment to not carry out or support extractive activities that may have adverse impacts on World Heritage Sites regardless of the location of the activity.

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org; www.facebook.com/TheWCS; www.youtube.com/user/WCSMedia Follow: @thewcs.

IUCN World Parks Congress
Conserving the earth’s most valuable natural places and promoting nature’s solutions to global challenges is the focus of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 taking place in Sydney, Australia from 12 to 19 November. The world’s 200,000 protected areas, covering around 15% of land and 3% of the oceans, conserve threatened wildlife, boost our food, water and climate security, and help people reconnect with nature. With its theme “Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions”, the Congress will bring together people from all walks of life to showcase protected areas as the best investment in our planet’s – and our own – future.