Physical resource extraction accounts for 31% of threats against natural and cultural sites since 1985
Mining and oil and gas extraction account for nearly a third of threats to UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada over the last 30 years, according to the international organization.
A total of 75 threats against nine designated natural and cultural sites have been documented by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s State of Conservation database since 1985.
Of those, 23 belong to a category called “physical resource extraction,” which consists of mining and oil and gas operations.The next most common threat types are management and institutional factors (13), service infrastructure (10), transportation infrastructure (8) and buildings and development (7).
Most of the threats occurred between 2000 and 2013. Peter Tyedmers, a professor at the School for Resource and Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, linked the threats from resource extraction to energy prices, which increased during that same time.
“It’s not surprising that, when prices are high, people are looking at new opportunities to develop,” he said. The threats against Canadian heritage sites were identified in a series of 41 UNESCO reports since 1985.
Wood Buffalo National Park in northern Alberta was the subject of the greatest number those reports, with nine in total, followed by the Historic District of Old Québec and Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, which each had eight.
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