Everglades National Park added to List of World Heritage in Danger

At the recent meeting of the World Heritage Committee, the Everglades National Park was placed back on the List of World Heritage in Danger. This is the ecological treasure’s second time on the list: the park was first added in 1993 following damage from Hurricane Andrew and because of serious deterioration in water flow and quality as a result of agricultural and urban runoff; it was removed in 2007 at the behest of the Bush Administration. But water flow reduction and nutrient pollution has continued and the park sorely needs restoration.

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Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

The park is also threatened by the Gulf oil disaster. Despite questionable assurances from the Administration that the coast is clear, there is still much we do not know about the location of underwater oil plumes. In July, NRDC partnered with Oceana and Mote Marine Laboratory to launch “Waldo”, an oil-seeking robot that patrols the waters to the north and northwest of the Florida Keys, and we hope that Waldo will help serve as a sentinel for oil plumes so if they are located in the area, emergency response can start as quickly as possible.

What is clear is that the Everglades represent an ecological Eden and that they contribute significantly to the regional economy:

  • Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and has been designated as a Wetland of International Importance and an International Biosphere Reserve, in addition to a World Heritage Site.  
  • Everglades National Park hosts over 300 species of birds and is a hugely important breeding area for wading birds as well as serving as a key stopover for species migrating up and down the Americas. 
  • Underwater, Everglades National Park contains more than 800 square miles of marine habitat supporting hundreds of species of fish, crustaceans and mollusks. 
  • Nearly 1 million visitors came to Everglades National Park in 2009. In 2007, park visitors spent $58.8 million dollars and were responsible for 1,066 local jobs.

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Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

    NRDC is working to ensure protection and restoration for the Everglades, both from oil and from a host of water management and development threats. Hopefully in time, this majestic area will be restored for present and future generations to enjoy and removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger. 

    About the Authors

    Alison Chase

    Senior Policy Analyst, Oceans Division, Nature Program

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