Shark Bay was hit by a brutal marine heatwave in 2011.
W. Bulach/Wikimedia Commons
Everyone knows the Great Barrier Reef is in peril. But a continent away, Western Australia's Shark Bay is also threatened by marine heatwaves that could alter this World Heritage ecosystem forever.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta: of 19 Australian World Heritage sites this is one of only two that recognise the values of ‘living’ Aboriginal culture.
Of 19 World Heritage sites across the country, only two, Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta, recognise the values of "living" Aboriginal culture. None of Australia's three sites inscribed purely for cultural values recognises Aboriginal people.
Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, but over the last four centuries it has aged and darkened from pollution.
Many more people experience World Heritage sites like the Sydney Opera House in digital form than physically visit them.
Many more people experience World Heritage online than in person. While that further elevates the status of iconic sites like the Sydney Opera House, it has other more complicated consequences too.
Pause and reflect on what really makes wilderness valuable.
John O'Neill/Wikimedia Commons
Imagine being one of the last few people alive. Would that make it ok to destroy the natural world? This thought experiment reveals the true value of nature, beyond the benefits to humans.
The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization was founded in 1945.
Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA
The US still owes UNESCO millions in arrears.
The Sirius building and the Heritage Act are both products of a significant part of Sydney’s history: the Green Bans movement.
Social housing can certainly have heritage significance. Over more than 100 years, it has been shaped by contemporary architectural and political ideas, sometimes in an exemplary way.
Dozens of reefs around the world have bleached in the past three years, of which the Great Barrier Reef was merely the most high-profile.
AAP Image/WWF AUSTRALIA, BIOPIXEL
Amid fears for the world's coral reefs, the UN World Heritage Committee has issued its most wide-ranging statement so far on protecting heritage sites from climate. But the problem doesn't end there.
The Wollangambe River’s canyons are loved by adventurers.
The environmental regulator has stepped in to stop water pollution from an underground coal mine damaging a World Heritage River. Can the mine deliver improvements and will the river recover?
The piles of rock where Murujuga’s rock art is found, in close proximity to industry.
Murujuga, or the Burrup Peninsula, is home to over a million rock artworks. But as concern grows about the impact of industrial pollution on the art, the WA government continues to play down the area's heritage value.
The Simien mountains in Ethiopia are one of the world’s most threatened natural heritage sites.
Simien mountains image from www.shutterstock.com
You'd hope we wouldn't flatten the pyramids to build a highway. But that's exactly what's happening to the world's natural heritage sites.
The Great Barrier Reef’s major threat is climate change.
Great Barrier Reef image from www.shutterstock.com
The government's latest report to UNESCO on the Great Barrier Reef paints a rosy picture.
Perception is everything when it comes to Great Barrier Reef tourism.
Reef image from www.shutterstock.com
All mention of Australia has been removed from an international report on climate change on the grounds that it would damage tourism. Here's the evidence.
The Wet Tropics is Australia’s second-biggest earner of nature tourism dollars.
Queensland's Wet Tropics are home to a dizzying range of plant and animal species, but are at risk of being overrun by yellow crazy ants.
The numbat, Australia’s equivalent of a meerkat, is one of the unique mammal species confined to the south west.
Sean Van Alphen
South west Australia is home to an astonishing number of plants and some of the country's weirdest wildlife. Now we need to protect it.
Pencil pines are found nowhere else in the world, and are extremely sensitive to fire.
Bushfires are threatening Tasmania's World Heritage area and ancient plants, warning us of a possible future under climate change.
Entrance to the gate of Nimrod, destroyed by the IS group and digitally reconstructed as part of Project Mosul.
Model by ruimx from photos at projectmosul.org
Researchers are making 3D scans, architectural plans and detailed photographic records of cultural heritage sites around the world, knowing they could be destroyed at any time.
More than 3,000 Aboriginal sites have lost registration status as part of sweeping changes in classifications in the Aboriginal Heritage Register.
Domes of Purnululu, Western Australia. Pic: David Denicolò
More than 3,000 Aboriginal heritage sites in Western Australia have lost registration status as part of sweeping changes in classifications in the Aboriginal Heritage Register. That needs to change.
The World Heritage Committee’s deliberations involved far more than a simple tick for the Great Barrier Reef.
Australia was spared the ignominy of having the Great Barrier Reef listed as officially in danger. But comments from member countries of the World Heritage Committee show the world is still worried about it.
It’s still too early to declare that it’s blue skies for the Great Barrier Reef.
Underwater Earth/Catlin Seaview Survey/Wikimedia Commons
Whether it's on the official "in danger" list or not, the Great Barrier Reef is clearly under threat. UNESCO has placed its faith in Australia, but without urgent action the problems will not go away.