Submit Press release  ∑ eTN Team ·  Advertising  ·  eTN Awards  - Worldtourism Events    

Under threat: Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone National Park and Mesa Verde National Park

May 28, 2016

Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone National Park and Mesa Verde National Park, as well as other World Heritage Sites in dozens of countries are under threat. It was documented by a recent UN report.

The threat: Increasing temperatures, rising sea levels and intensifying weather are.

World Heritage sites are tourist attractions, and tourism is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economic sectors, responsible for 9 percent of gross domestic product globally and providing one in 11 jobs.

Terrorism is a major current threat to the tourism industry, but so is climate change.

‚ÄúThe Statue of Liberty is probably the most recognizable statue on the planet and it stands as one of the world‚Äôs most potent symbols of freedom‚Ķbut as solid and invulnerable as‚Ķitself seems‚Ķthe site‚Ķis actually at considerable risk from...sea-level rise, increased intensity of storms and storm surges,‚ÄĚ stated the report World Heritage and Tourism in Changing Climate, released on Thursday by UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

‚ÄúClimate change is a threat multiplier and will increase vulnerability and exacerbate other stresses including but not limited to pollution, conflict over resources, urbanization, habitat fragmentation, loss of tangible cultural heritable and the impact of unplanned or poorly managed tourism,‚ÄĚ stated the report.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the New York City in October 2012, it destroyed more than 75 percent of Liberty Island in New York Harbor through flooding, damaging the island’s infrastructure, and forcing it to close for nine months, according to the report. The Liberty Monument is at an extremely low elevation of the island and makes it vulnerable to storms.

‚ÄúWater levels at Battery Park‚Ķreached nearly 4.3 meters‚Ķwith wave heights [of] 9.91 meters in New York Harbor during the storm‚ĶHurricane Sandy closed Liberty Island for nine months, seriously damaging or destroying much of the infrastructure on the island including electrical, water, sewage, security and telephone systems,‚ÄĚ according to the report.

‚ÄúRepairs to the island after Sandy included replacing an 84-metre dock, ‚Ķnew paving blocks to rebuild the walkways‚Ķelectrical systems had to be raised as much as 6 meters above sea level.‚ÄĚ

The Statue of Liberty, which is valued at more than $1.5 billion, was re-fitted with an energy-efficient, light-emitting diode system above ground and flood levels.

‚Äú[T]he intangible cost of future damage‚Ķincalculable‚Ķthe damage was extensive and tourism‚Ķhad to close for many months‚Ķbut the lessons learned from its recovery can provide a model for other vulnerable coastal sites,‚ÄĚ said the report.

Equally vulnerable is Yellowstone National Park, which covers about 5,592 square miles (9,000 square kilometres) in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

‚Äú[The] park forms the core of one of the planet‚Äôs last remaining, mostly intact large-scale temperate ecosystems‚Ķscientists‚Ķhave major concerns about the growing signs of climate change in the park‚Ķtemperatures‚Ķhave risen by 1.17 degree Celsius‚Ķwarming is‚Ķcausing the winter in the park to become shorter, with less snowfall and snow staying on the ground less often‚Ķsnow totals and the timing of snowmelt effect the rivers and streams of the park,‚ÄĚ stated the report.

‚ÄúBiologist are predicting a 26 percent decrease in native cutthroat trout because of warmer temperatures‚Ķ40 percent of wetlands‚Ķcould be lost‚Ķfrogs‚Ķmay be under threat‚Ķ[as well as] swans‚Ķcranes...with rising temperatures‚Ķfires season has lengthened from five months in the 1970s to seven months today‚Ķpredicted to increase‚Ķby 600 percent or more.‚ÄĚ

Under threat: Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone National Park and Mesa Verde National Park

Premium Partners