The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently published its 2020 report on the status of World Heritage Sights. The organization evaluates the health of the 241 sights every 3 years. In the time between the 2017 report and the 2020 report, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has gone from being labeled as “significant concern” to “critical.”

The deteriorating conditions in the Great Barrier Reef are due to coral bleaching. Warming weather and acidification are the leading cause of coral bleaching, which leaves them vulnerable to disease and stunts their growth. This reduces the corals’ ability to provide habitat and food sources for the estimated 1500 species of fish in the region.

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The updated report labeled 17 of the 241 sights as “critical.” Other sights in this category include Florida’s Everglades National Park, Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, and 5 different areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

ABC News Australia/YouTube

Climate change, invasive species, and the impacts of tourism are listed as the 3 major causes of environmental degradation related to World Heritage Sights.

“The findings of the IUCN World Heritage Outlook 3 point to a dire need for adequate resources to manage our irreplaceable natural areas,” said Peter Shadie, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme in a statement. “Many natural World Heritage sites show that conservation can and does work for the greater good, and their achievements serve as models that can be replicated and scaled up elsewhere. We need more inspiring examples like Comoé National Park in Côte d’Ivoire to ensure a brighter future for nature’s finest.”

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One way you can help protect the Great Barrier Reef is by “adopting” a coral through the Reef Restoration Project. The project grows corals in an ocean-based nursery and uses them to help degraded corals survive.

Sign this petition to Save the Great Barrier Reef

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