Yet despite their recognized value and protected status, the report found that illegal poaching, logging and fishing occur in almost 30 percent of natural and mixed World Heritage sites, driving endangered species to the brink of extinction and putting the livelihoods and wellbeing of communities who depend on them at risk.
According to the report, what’s going on here is not just unsustainable practices in fishing and logging, but criminality.
“Between 1970 and 2012, global wildlife populations declined by nearly 60 per cent on average, and illegal harvesting of species was one of the main drivers for this decline”, authors wrote.
There are large economic interests in bringing an end to such illegal activities, especially inside world heritage sites, WWF said.
WWF’s wildlife policy manager, Colman O’Criodain, told Agence France-Presse that the vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise, is most at risk of extinction.