The world around us is changing and we may be some of the last people gifted the opportunity to experience some of the world’s natural wonders before they are gone forever. Deforestation, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and excessive fishing is leading to the gradual disappearance of earth’s most magnificent places. Here are five natural wonders you need to see before it is too late.
The Great Barrier Reef
Rising sea temperatures, cyclones, excessive fishing and the damaging effects of the Crown of Thorns starfish have all contributed to the demise of over half of the Great Barrier Reef in the last 27 years. Much of the remaining sections of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are irreversibly damaged and scientists expect that the entire reef could have disappeared completely by 2030.
Madagascar is the 4th largest island in the world and its forests are home to hundreds of species that can be found nowhere else in the world, including over 20 species of lemur. Agricultural practices including burning and mass deforestation have led to a loss of 90% of the Madagascan forest, with complete deforestation expected within 35 years if nothing is done to protect and preserve it.
The Everglades, Florida
The Everglades is the largest sub-tropical wilderness in the USA and one of only three places named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a Biosphere Preserve and a Wetland of National Importance. Sadly it has also been named on another list; UNESCO’s list of World Heritage in Danger. The Everglades is now half the size it was a decade ago.
The demise of the Everglades is blamed almost solely on humankind; new developments have encroached on the land, sugar cane fields have siphoned off water and run their own waste into the eco-system, and invasive species’ have been introduced to the waters and disturbed the natural status-quo of its wildlife. Burmese Pythons released into the swamps have bred in such numbers that around 100,000 are thought to live there. As a result, the world risks losing endangered species that are unique to the Everglades, including the Florida Panther of which less than 100 remain.
Many consider the Seychelles to be the quintessential paradise island and the sandy nirvana is a popular destination on many a cruise holiday itinerary. Sadly we may soon be hanging our hammock in another area of the world; rising sea levels, beach erosion and coral die-off could result in the Seychelles disappearing completely within the next 100 years.
The waterways for which Venice is so famous may soon become its downfall, for the lagoon city built on marshland is sinking at a rate of 2mm per year. Though the rate has slowed in recent years, it combines with a water level which rises at 2mm each year, creating a total drop of 4mm. High tides in autumn and winter see the lowest area of the city, the Piazza San Marco, flood entirely. Floods have become a regular occurrence across the city, with wooden boards erected to allow locals to commute safely. The multi-million euro MOSE flood defence system debuted in 2014, though experts have expressed much scepticism as to the system’s effectiveness.
Environmentalists, supporting celebrities and locals rejoiced in 2014 when a ban prohibited large cruise ships sailing through the Byzantine city. The ban was lifted shortly after, though the like of P&O Cruises and other notable cruise lines have continued to design their itineraries to bypass routes cutting through the heart of the city.
Michael Wilson is the Managing Director at Bolsover Cruise Club. In his spare time, Michael enjoys holidays with his family, watching rugby and gardening. See Facebook for updates.