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Five natural wonders of the world threatened by climate change and how you can save them

As wanderers of the world, we love exploring our beautiful planet and learning more about the most extraordinary places on earth. But if we don’t take action now to reduce our carbon footprint, many of these sites of beauty could soon become a distant memory.

A report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature revealed that one-third of the 83 natural World Heritage sites are now threatened by climate change. In honour of these natural wonders of the world, here are just five at risk from climate change and its devastating effects.

1. The Great Barrier Reef
Home to one of the most vibrant ecosystems on earth, the Great Barrier Reef has become a top tourist spot in Australia. But as ocean temperatures continue to rise, less and less people will be able to experience this underwater paradise.

The warming of the oceans caused by climate change has started to bleach the Great Barrier Reef’s coral colonies – indicating that they’re nearing death. As the largest coral reef system in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is also home to thousands of species that will suffer the damaging effects of our carbon levels rising.

2. The Pantanal
The Pantanal is the planet’s largest tropical wetland and is a critical resource for local communities in Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. Home to more than 4,700 plant and animal species, the Pantanal is one of the most biologically rich environments on the planet. Unfortunately, the Pantanal is often the victim of wildfires caused by climate change – putting many of these creatures in harm’s way.

But wildfires aren’t the Pantanal’s only threat. Deforestation has also started to increase in this area, and according to WWF, native vegetation in the Pantanal will disappear by 2050 if no measures are taken to combat this.

3. Greenland and Antarctica
The breath-taking landscapes of Greenland and the Antarctica make for some of the most difficult conditions to travel in, but they are still at the top of many people’s bucket lists. According to Nasa, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets are losing ice six times faster than they were in the 1990s – and in the worst-case scenario by 2100, the sea level could rise an extra 6.7 inches.

The incredible increase in sea levels surrounding Greenland and Antarctica could cause flooding of zones with vast amounts of infrastructure, such as airports. With nearly 70 percent of the earth’s population living within 100 miles of a coast, within decades this could affect the livelihood of thousands of people living close to the area.

4. The Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world and covers around 40 percent of the South American continent. This magnificent rainforest is one of the most biologically diverse regions on our planet and is often referred to as ‘the lungs of the earth’.

Although we benefit from the natural ecosystem of this rainforest, humans have already destroyed at least 12 percent of the original jungle through deforestation. This has had a dramatic impact on rainfall patterns and distribution, which has in turn altered the regional climate. These changes have also started to affect the region’s water availability, biodiversity, agriculture, and even human health.

With such a rapid decline in water levels, it’s predicted that around 30 to 60 percent of the Amazon Rainforest could eventually become a dry savanna if no action is taken.

5. Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls in Zambia is famous for its kilometre-long natural waterfall that stuns tourists as water plunges 354 feet, generating mass clouds of white mist. Although Victoria Falls is a popular tourist attraction, the fall’s showstopping views are slowly reducing into stretches of dry rock with spouts of low water flow – which has left some visitors slightly disappointed.

While in the dry season the water levels usually slow down, experts have said that there’s been an unprecedented decline in water levels in the past few years caused by rising temperatures in the region. This not only affects the falls, but also the health of its ecosystem and the local economy.

Our planet is home to so many natural wonders that make earth the beautiful and diverse planet it is. However, the impact of the climate crisis and the population’s growing carbon footprint means visiting these places may not be possible for much longer.

Offsetting your carbon emissions is just one way you can reduce your impact and do your bit to save our precious planet.

Find out more about the projects we support and take your first steps towards offsetting your carbon footprint here.

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