Thank You for Helping to Protect World Heritage Rivers

Kate Ross and Katy Yan

Children swimming in the Changuinola River in La Amistad. By Hugo Sanchez and Marcio Bonilla Thanks to everyone who voted in our World Heritage photo contest and took action earlier this month. Not only do we have the top three photos (see below), but the World Heritage Centre has also issued a positive response to your more than 200 letters calling for the implementation of stronger protections for our World Heritage rivers.

In addition, in the lead up to the World Heritage Committee meeting, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre has published a set of recommended decisions regarding the dam-threatened sites. These recommendations provide updates on the state of conservation of these sites, and serve as critical inputs to the final decisions made at the end of this month.

Among the recommended decisions are the inscription of Lake Turkana (Kenya) on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to the threats it faces from the Gibe III Dam upstream, as well as requests for the assessment of the cumulative impacts of dams in the Three Parallel Rivers (China) and Río Plátano (Honduras), and the implementation of mitigation measures for existing dams at La Amistad (Panama and Costa Rica).

Six NGOs that work to support the communities affected by these dam projects recently sent a letter urging the swift adoption and implementation of these decisions. You can read their letter, the full set of recommendations, and view the response to your letters from the Director of the World Heritage Centre.

In the coming weeks, we will be watching closely to make sure that these recommended decisions are strengthened and adopted at the 36th session. You too can monitor this year’s meeting through a live stream provided by UNESCO.

2012 World Heritage Rivers Photo Contest

Thank you again to everyone who voted during our 2012 World Heritage Photo Contest, and many thanks to all our partners and allies who shared their beautiful photos with us. Their dedication to protecting these cultural and natural heritage places and peoples is evident in each and every photo.

First Place

The First Grand Bend of the Yangtze River
Photo: Heng Duan Shan Society
This region of the Three Parallel Rivers World Heritage Site in China – known as the epicenter of Chinese biodiversity – will be submerged by the planned Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge Dam. Read about the director of the Heng Duan Shan Society, Mr. Yang Yong, and his efforts to protect the mountains and rivers of Southwest China.

Second Place

Three Generations of Women Looking Out Over the Omo River
Photo: © Alison M. Jones, No Water No Life
In Ethiopia, an estimated 200,000 people rely on the Omo River’s annual flood either directly for food cultivation or indirectly through food surpluses produced and sold within the isolated, local economy. The Gibe III Dam and the associated decrease in water levels in the Omo River threaten the survival of these indigenous peoples. Friends of Lake Turkana and Survival International have been working with both local and international groups to protect both the river and the lake that it supports.

Third Place

Evening on the Rio Patuca
Photo: Jason Hall
While the Patuca River is slated to be included in the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve of Honduras, three dams are being planned for the Patuca River that feeds into the Reserve. For more than a decade, the Indigenous peoples of the Tawahka, Pech, Miskito, and Garifuna tribes have steadfastly opposed dam construction on the Patuca River, and they continue to do so, fearing the impacts to their survival and to the river ecosystem within the reserve. Among the groups fighting to save the Patuca River is the Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH).

Check out all of the photo entries along with other World heritage photos here:

More information: