Published on November 7th, 2017 | by Guest Contributor
Twelve Historic Places to Visit Before They Vanish: Part 1.
Do you have a bucket list of places you’d like to visit in your life? You probably should not procrastinate on that. A number of the world’s most spectacular destinations and historic treasures are under threat of vanishing before our very eyes.
According to UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), “Climate change is affecting world heritage sites across the globe.” Notable places at risk include Venice, The Galapagos Islands, and even some Canadian historical spots. Here’s part one of our two part series on Disappearing Destinations.
Old Town Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
For example, the popular tourism destination of Old Town Lunenburg in Nova Scotia is vulnerable. Lunenburg, on the southern coast of Nova Scotia, is the best example of an early British colonial settlement townscape in North America. Established in 1753, Lunenburg is officially recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada.
According to the UNESCO report: “Rising seas threaten to inundate some coastal land permanently, and higher water levels will also result in more damage from storm surges and flooding in parts of the Old Town that have not previously been affected. Many buildings and roads are vulnerable, and among those most at risk is one of Lunenburg’s major tourist attractions, the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic, housed in a complex of historic buildings on the waterfront.” It may soon be history. Literally.
The Magdalen Islands, Quebec.
On the eastern shores of nearby Quebec, in the Gulf of St. Laurence are The Magdalen Islands. This archipelago is home to sandstone cliffs and sandy beaches. It is estimated that the island’s coast is eroding by up to a metre a year. The layer of protective ice surrounding the islands is also melting. Experts say that the ice could melt completely within the next 75 years, leaving the island’s shores even more vulnerable to floodwaters and erosion. Island officials have already begun relocating some people and homes from threatened shorelines.
The Statue of Liberty, New York.
Just south of the border, Lady Liberty is also in danger. The impacts of climate change – especially rising sea-levels along with the increased intensity of storms and storm surges are taking their toll on the Statue of Liberty. In 2011, Hurricane Sandy closed Liberty Island for nine months, seriously damaging or destroying much of the infrastructure including electrical, water, sewage, security and telephone systems.
A 2015 vulnerability analysis carried out by the US National Park Service concluded that 100 percent of the assets at the Liberty National Monument are at “high exposure” risk from sea-level rise due to the extremely low elevation of the island and its vulnerability to storms.
Glacier National Park, Montana.
Further to the west is the famous Glacier National Park in Montana, bordering on Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park. Both have been named as World Heritage Sites. They are home to a large mammal population such as grizzly bears, moose, and mountain goats, as well as rare or endangered species like wolverines and Canadian lynxes. One hundred years ago, there were roughly 150 glaciers scattered around Glacier National Park. By 2005 only 27 remained, and these are expected to disappear within the next 20 years. This will cause a loss of habitat for the plant and animal species that are dependent on cold water, as well as lead to droughts, leaving the parks vulnerable to increased forest fires.
The Galapagos Islands.
One of the world’s top destinations for wildlife-viewing, and the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, the Galapagos Islands have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, signifying their “outstanding value to humanity.”
Today, however, the Galapagos Islands face serious challenges for the long-term survival of their unique ecosystem. Tourism is increasing by roughly 12 percent every year. Hotels, restaurants, and an increase in motor vehicles are threatening the unspoiled beauty of the islands. Over three-quarters of the creatures living on the Galapagos are endemic to the islands, but these rare species face increased competition and threats from non-indigenous species such as rats, goats and other animals brought in by visitors.
The Maldives are the world’s lowest destination with 80 percent of the 1,200 islands having an elevation of less than one metre above sea level. (The islands are also one of the Earth’s flattest spots having no surface that is higher than three metres above sea level.)
With coral bleaching and rising sea levels, the islands are at high risk of becoming submerged within the century. The UN’s environmental panel has warned that, at current rates, sea level rise would be high enough to make the Maldives uninhabitable by 2100.
And don’t forget to check back next week to see part two of our series on Disappearing Destinations.
© 2017 CAA South Central Ontario
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