Wilderness Policy

World Heritage Commitee speaks out against extractive uses in heritage sites

Following IUCN’s advice, the World Heritage Committee has sent a strong message to oil and gas and other extractive industries not to operate in World Heritage sites. The message came during discussions about World Heritage sites in Danger, including Africa’s iconic Virunga National Park, at the annual World Heritage Committee meeting taking place in Doha, Qatar.

Four days before the meeting began, British oil company SOCO announced its intention to stay clear of all World Heritage sites and stop any exploratory activities in Virunga National Park within 30 days, “unless UNESCO and the DRC government agree that such activities are not incompatible with its World Heritage status.”

Two days ago, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee and IUCN provided a clear response: no extractive company anywhere in the world should attempt to carry out exploration or extraction activities in World Heritage sites.

This is in full accordance with the European Wilderness Quality Standards, which also prohibit extractive use in certified Wilderness areas.

Lets hope that this will also influence the decision on the Australian application of the delisting of the Tasmanian forest World Heritage Site.

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