UNESCO requested to declare “in danger” Heritage threatened by Trump

It was requested that El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve receive this category since the border wall would block fauna migration
Photo: File Photo/EL UNIVERSAL
24/05/2017
19:29
Notimex
Phoenix
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The bi-national tribe Tohono-O'odham, along with the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmentalist group based in Tucson, Arizona, and Greenpeace Mexico, asked the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to declare “in danger” the World Heritage Site of El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve threatened by president Donald Trump's border wall.

The joint petition presented in Paris this Tuesday, arguments that the “impenetrable” wall of 32 feet high will block the migration of fauna and threaten the species at risk that inhabit the border region, designated on 2013 as World Heritage Site.

“The wall not only divides countries and people, but also the species which don't need a passport to move. If built, the wall would jeopardize the Sonora and Arizona ecosystems and the species we share between both nations,” said in a statement Alejandro Olivera, a representative of the Center for Biological Diversity and co-author of the petition.

Under the recognition of World Heritage Site, a place can be cataloged as “in danger” if “development projects” or “relevant public works” put at risk the natural elements that the site was designated to protect.

The petitioners explained that by having this category, international attention would shift to the El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve and its habitat, along with the ecological and cultural threats that carry the construction of the border wall.

The Reserve has around 2.702 square miles in the inactive volcanic shield of El Pinacate and the sand dunes of the Desierto del Gran Altar. The reserve includes plants and wildlife which are only found in the northeastern deserts of Sonora and southwest of Arizona.

Among the endemic species are the Sonoran pronghorn, the second fastest terrestrial animal on the planet, which has suffered a severe decrease in its population, and was cataloged as endangered species, with only 975 individuals left.

The border wall would also affect the jaguar, which is also endangered, the bighorn sheep and even the ferruginous pygmy owl, characterized by its low flight.

In addition, the wall would difficult the mobility of the indigenous people Tohono O'odham, who historically inhabited the site of El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar and whose traditional lands are divided by the border between Mexico and the U.S.

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