Glaciers have been hit hard with the impact of global warming, but tourists visiting the natural gems are further progressing the affects of climate change.
Recently the federal government has approved a Glacier Discovery Walk in Jasper National Park, which has raised concerns that the increased tourism will impact the Columbia Icefield. The main attraction, the Athabasca Glacier, is the walk’s main attraction and already the most visited glacier in North America. Unfortunately, it has been deteriorating at an accelerated pace because of global warming.
This is the case for many other natural resources that aren’t just losing the battle to climate change, but also under thread from tourism and development as well.
Here are some key locations to note:
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
These volcanic islands off the coast of Ecuador are found in the Pacific Ocean. Known for their richness in biodiversity, hundreds of species of plant and animal life found on the islands exist only here. But with over 150,000 visitors per year, the species are all under increasing threat. Furthermore, the introduction of new species to the islands causes additional threats to the wildlife and plant life that currently exist there.
Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo
Known for its population of mountain gorillas, this 7,800-square-kilometre park is Africa’s oldest national park,and includes mountains, icefields, savannas, swamps, and active volcanoes. The different habitats and wildlife throughout the park, including the less than 800 mountain gorillas that still exist there, have been damaged by the civil war, poachers, and foresters. Though these affects should be minimized, they are all still in full force, whether its current affects or terrible aftermath.
Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System
Because of the area’s unparalleled beauty, tens of thousands of visitors come to this coastal area each year. Here they will find the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere (second largest in the world), along with mangrove forests, sand cays, coastal lagoons and coral islands. It extends almost 300 kilometres from the Belize-Mexico border south and is divided into seven marine reserves and national parks. There is a large variety of plant and marine life here, including endangered species such as the marine turtle, manatee and the American crocodile.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
This 2,000-kilometre reef is the largest in the world, with hundreds of species of marine life living here. Located off the coast of Queensland state, it includes many types of hard and soft coral, along with six of the world’s seven threatened species of marine turtle.
Because of the agricultural and mining runoff that drains into the ocean, the reef is under constant threat. Australia is a very popluar family vacation destination.
The Dead Sea, located between Israel and Jordan, is filled with mineral-rich waters of that draw in many international tourists for the unique ability to float easily on the water. Its surface is 417 metres below sea level and the lowest place on earth and a huge tourist destination. However, it isn’t the numerous hotels, resorts, and visitors that cause the issue. Instead, there is a decrease in the water levels in recent years due to nearby mining operations and water consumption from the rivers upstream.
Machu Pichu, Peru
Machu Pichu is one of the most important archeological and cultural sites in Latin America, and a tourist destination. The beauty is found in these ruins of an ancient city of the Inca empire, which is located 2,430 metres above sea level in a tropical mountain forest in the Peruvian Andes. It is noted as an endangered location because of the threat from a continually increased urban development, tourism and neglect.