Belize Barrier Reef recovers and is removed from UNESCO ‘In Danger’ list

June 28, 2018 by  
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Thanks to a comprehensive conservation effort, the exceptionally diverse Belize Barrier Reef has recovered so much that it has been removed from the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger sites. “At a time when we are seeing numerous threats to World Heritage sites, Belize’s government has taken real action to protect one of the world’s most special places,” World Wildlife Fund International director general Marco Lambertini told EcoWatch . “We have seen an incredible turnaround from when the reef was being threatened by seismic testing for oil just 18 months ago.” The decision to remove the Belize Barrier Reef from the ‘In Danger’ sites list arrives five months after Belize passed legislation banning all oil exploratory activity in its waters. The second largest reef system in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef provides habitat for 1,400 species, including vulnerable species of shark , sea turtle and manatee. The reef also provides food and economic opportunity for almost half of Belize’s population while serving as a natural barrier against extreme weather. First classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996, it was later added to the In Danger list in 2009 in response to increased oil exploration activity and damaging coastal construction. Related: Belize votes to indefinitely end all oil exploration in its waters As a result of a coordinated worldwide campaign, Belize, one of only three countries to ban all offshore oil exploration, put its barrier reef under protection. That effort is already bearing fruit. “Belizeans stood up to protect their reef, with hundreds of thousands more globally joining the campaign to save our shared heritage,” Lambertini said. “In taking swift collaborative action, Belize has shown that it is possible to reverse nature loss and create a sustainable future.” Belize is aiming to take its conservation to the next level by considering bans on single-use plastic products that threaten marine life . Via EcoWatch Images via Heath Alseike and Ruth

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Belize Barrier Reef recovers and is removed from UNESCO ‘In Danger’ list

World’s first beluga whale sanctuary will welcome new arrivals

June 28, 2018 by  
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In 2019, two beluga whales, named Little Grey and Little White, will be transported from the Changfeng Ocean World aquarium in Shanghai to the world’s first whale sanctuary in a protected bay in Iceland . Established by the SEA LIFE Trust in collaboration with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation , the 32,000-square-meter Beluga Whale Sanctuary site was chosen for its sub-arctic climate and seclusion. “It’s really important for Little White and Little Grey, providing them with a more natural home in which to live out the rest of their lives,” head of the SEA LIFE Trust Andy Bool told Reuters . The whales are already being prepped for their journey and the colder waters of their new home through exercises designed to increase their strength and their ability to hold their breath underwater. With its stores of blubber and echolocation refined for finding holes in the sea ice through which to breathe, the beluga whale is well adapted to Arctic waters. The beluga is also a very social animal, typically living in groups of up to 10, though gatherings of hundreds or thousands of whales can occur in summer. While the species as a whole is not considered threatened, populations in certain regions, such as the Cook Inlet in Alaska , are endangered. Related: A beluga whale living with dolphins learned to “speak their language” In addition to their exercise regimen, Little Grey and Little White, both 12-year-old females, will be fed increased calories and gradually eased into using a stretcher, with which they will be restrained for part of their journey to their new home. Those who have made this sanctuary possible hope that it will set an example for other wildlife entertainment parks to release their animals into the wild. Whale and Dolphin Conservation captivity campaign manager Cathy Williamson told Reuters , “We believe this will inspire other facilities to move their belugas and other whales and dolphins to sanctuaries in other parts of the world.” + SEA LIFE Trust + Whale and Dolphin Conservation Via Reuters Images via Salva Barbera and Sheila Sund

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World’s first beluga whale sanctuary will welcome new arrivals

This Taiwan hotel draws inspiration from "glittering sea foam"

June 28, 2018 by  
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Taiwanese firm  Emerge Architects has created a beautiful hotel in a remote coastal area of Yilan in northeastern Taiwan. Built into a large hill that overlooks the harbor, the Onyx Lit House is a contemporary jet-black tower with clusters of round windows that stream light into the interior. The bold tower, which becomes a glowing beacon at night, was inspired by the seaside landscape. Located in the coastal area of Yilan, the Onyx Lit House holds court over the city’s bustling harbor area. According to the architects, the seaside environment served as an inspiration for the design. “Our first impression of Toucheng Village and Wishi Harbour in Yilan was the smell of salty waves, the sound of splashes on the glossy shingle beach and the sight of distant Guishan Island,” the firm said. “The image of dissolving waves and glittering sea foam became the source to the guesthouse’s design element.” Related: Chrome Hotel’s Swiss Cheese Facade Saves Energy The hotel’s dark facade is punctuated with various round windows. During the day, pockets of natural light  filter in through the openings and brighten the interior. At night, the tower becomes a glowing beacon on the outside, while the interior resembles a starry night sky. The nearly 3,000-square-foot guest home spreads out over three floors. A narrow staircase connects the floors, all of which are decorated with a minimalist  design . The common spaces are painted a stark white to contrast the black exterior. Every floor has an open-air balcony that lets visitors sit and enjoy the fresh sea air. The individual guestrooms are arranged to take advantage of  natural light during the day and the starry-like atmosphere at night. The unique windows also provide stunning views of the sea and mountains in the distance. + Emerge Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Lucas K. Doolan via Emerge Architects

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This Taiwan hotel draws inspiration from "glittering sea foam"

Shigeru Bans Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center opens in Japan

January 3, 2018 by  
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Japan’s Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center, designed by Pritzker winner Shigeru Ban , is officially open to the public at a time when visibility of Japan’s highest peak is at its best. Located 20 miles southwest of Mt. Fuji in Fujinomiya, Shizuoka Prefecture, the sculptural building pays homage to Fuji with its inverted latticed cone that, when seen in the reflecting pool, mimics the shape of the famous dormant volcano. Shigeru Ban’s design for the new Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center was selected from 238 entries in a competition commissioned shortly after Fuji was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013. The highlight of the 3,400-square-meter facility is the viewing tower and ascent, where visitors walk up a 193-meter spiral slope simulating a climb up the Japan’s highest peak. Full-height glazing at the highest part of the tower frames views of the 3,776-meter-tall mountain. Related: Shigeru Ban uses shipping containers and paper tubes to create a surprising mobile museum Glass walls surround the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center, giving it a sense of lightness, while the timber latticed cone is split between the interior and exterior. The facility also includes an exhibition room with a 4K theater and a touch screen with clips explicating the beliefs, culture, and nature of Mount Fuji. The Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center opened December 23, 2017. + Shigeru Ban Images via Shigeru Ban

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Shigeru Bans Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center opens in Japan

Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

January 1, 2017 by  
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On the island of Pohnpei, Micronesia rest the remarkable ruins of Nan Madol, the only ancient city ever constructed on top of a coral reef . Referred to as an ” engineering marvel ” by the Smithsonian and nicknamed the “Venice of the Pacific,” this series of over 90 artificial islets could have once housed around 1,000 people. Although the Saudeleur built the city around 1200 AD, it wasn’t until earlier this year Nan Madol was finally named a World Heritage Site . Nan Madol flourished sometime during the 13th to 17th centuries AD as a spiritual and political center for the Saudeleur. Little remains of the intriguing ancient civilization – no art or carvings – other than marvelous ruins atop the coral reef. Oral history says the Saudeleur came to Pohnpei as foreigners in 1100 and ended up ruling the island, with Nan Madol as their dynastic seat. The city also served as a temple for the god the nobility worshiped. Related: Lasers reveal ancient Cambodian cities hidden by jungle near Angkor Wat The Saudeleur utilized columnar basalt, a kind of volcanic rock, to build the impressive city on a foundation of coral – and as the building materials are so heavy, no one has yet figured out how they accomplished the feat. The heaviest pillars weigh around 100,000 pounds. The walls surrounding the island’s largest structure, a royal temple called Nandauwas, are 25 feet high. The enduring stability of the remains is also something of a mystery. According to the National Park Service , “The Pohnpeians, who had neither binding agents like concrete nor modern diving equipment, sank the heavy stones into the lagoon using an unknown method. The building remains and canals are stable enough that even after centuries of abandonment visitors can still tour Nan Madol by boat.” Earlier in 2016, the World Heritage Committee added Nan Madol to both the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger, underlining the need to protect the fascinating site from unchecked mangrove growth and waterway siltation. Nan Madol is Micronesia’s first World Heritage Site. Via Smithsonian.com , Metropolitan Museum of Art , and National Park Service Images via Stephanie Batzer on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ), Stefan Krasowski on Flickr , and Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

January 1, 2017 by  
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On the island of Pohnpei, Micronesia rest the remarkable ruins of Nan Madol, the only ancient city ever constructed on top of a coral reef . Referred to as an ” engineering marvel ” by the Smithsonian and nicknamed the “Venice of the Pacific,” this series of over 90 artificial islets could have once housed around 1,000 people. Although the Saudeleur built the city around 1200 AD, it wasn’t until earlier this year Nan Madol was finally named a World Heritage Site . Nan Madol flourished sometime during the 13th to 17th centuries AD as a spiritual and political center for the Saudeleur. Little remains of the intriguing ancient civilization – no art or carvings – other than marvelous ruins atop the coral reef. Oral history says the Saudeleur came to Pohnpei as foreigners in 1100 and ended up ruling the island, with Nan Madol as their dynastic seat. The city also served as a temple for the god the nobility worshiped. Related: Lasers reveal ancient Cambodian cities hidden by jungle near Angkor Wat The Saudeleur utilized columnar basalt, a kind of volcanic rock, to build the impressive city on a foundation of coral – and as the building materials are so heavy, no one has yet figured out how they accomplished the feat. The heaviest pillars weigh around 100,000 pounds. The walls surrounding the island’s largest structure, a royal temple called Nandauwas, are 25 feet high. The enduring stability of the remains is also something of a mystery. According to the National Park Service , “The Pohnpeians, who had neither binding agents like concrete nor modern diving equipment, sank the heavy stones into the lagoon using an unknown method. The building remains and canals are stable enough that even after centuries of abandonment visitors can still tour Nan Madol by boat.” Earlier in 2016, the World Heritage Committee added Nan Madol to both the World Heritage List and the List of World Heritage in Danger, underlining the need to protect the fascinating site from unchecked mangrove growth and waterway siltation. Nan Madol is Micronesia’s first World Heritage Site. Via Smithsonian.com , Metropolitan Museum of Art , and National Park Service Images via Stephanie Batzer on Flickr ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ), Stefan Krasowski on Flickr , and Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Ancient city constructed on a coral reef remains the only one of its kind

M6.8 quake in Myanmar causes historic Bagan monuments to crumble

August 25, 2016 by  
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A magnitude 6.8 earthquake shook central Myanmar on Wednesday, damaging many historic temples dating back to the 11th century. In an ironic twist, much of the damage was actually sustained by modern building materials , which Myanmar ’s former rulers had ordered throughout numerous ‘restoration’ projections that disregarded the original architecture of the monuments in question. The powerful earthquake hit 310 miles from the border of India, and was felt as far away as Kolkata, but no deaths have been reported. Embed from Getty Images Rulers of Bagan, the capital city of the Pagan (pronounced PUH’-gahn) empire, built over 10,000 magnificent religious monuments during their 250-year reign, and around 2,000 were thought to remain prior to this week’s earthquake . Now, scores of stupas, temples, and monasteries may have been destroyed forever by the powerful tremor . Officials have secured the historic sites to prevent further damage or injury, while they devise a plan for how to proceed. Related: Dozens killed by powerful earthquake in picturesque rural region of central Italy Despite the age and historic significance of the Bagan monuments, the ruins were denied the label and privilege of World Heritage Site . UNESCO was not impressed with the restoration attempts, which started in the early 1990s, and the site became even less likely to ever receive the honor after the 2005 unveiling of a nearly 200-foot-tall viewing tower, which UNESCO officials criticized as detracting from the historic monuments. Via Phys.org Lead image via USGS

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M6.8 quake in Myanmar causes historic Bagan monuments to crumble

Amazing floating restaurant in Mexico shaped like a bird’s nest

August 25, 2016 by  
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“Nido”, which translates to “nest” in English, is one of three restaurants at the striking Mar Adentro Hotel in San José del Cabo, Mexico . Mimicking bird nests one might find in nature, the restaurant looks like an otherworldly structure surrounded by water. Related: Floating solar-powered Waternest eco-home is nearly 100% recyclable A network of walkways connect the pool, hotel and restaurant and create a beautiful promenade from which people can take in the architecture. The interior of the nest is surprisingly simple, with chairs, bar tables and lounges designed as minimalist pieces. Visually, the furniture doesn’t compete with the roof structure. Instead, it complements it with subtle textures and patterns. + Miguel Ángel Aragonés Via Contemporist Photos by Joe Fletcher

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Amazing floating restaurant in Mexico shaped like a bird’s nest

Toyo Ito adorns Mexico’s new Baroque museum with curved white walls

June 8, 2016 by  
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The 2013 Pritzker Prize winner created a modern building from a dense collection of curved walls, tucked into an organic footprint. Inside the museum , visitors can stroll through the main hall, one adjacent hall for special and temporary exhibitions, and three additional halls for temporary special exhibits. The building also houses an auditorium, an international baroque salon, library, shop, and restaurant, in addition to management offices, a restoration workshop, and storage spaces. Related: Toyo Ito awarded 2013 Pritzker Prize The impressive architecture of the museum doesn’t have to be enough to make it a world landmark, though. Its location is already designated as a UNESCO world heritage site , spanning almost 12.5 acres in the Atlixcáyotl Territorial Reserve, in the country’s fourth largest city. As recently as 2014, the museum project was in danger of not being completed, as planners had been denied then necessary environmental permits to build on the UNESCO site. Fortunately for art lovers, project managers were able to make accommodations in the design to satisfy environmental standards, and construction was allowed. Just two years after the project seemed doomed, it officially opened to visitors in February 2016. + Toyo Ito & Associates Images via Luis Gordoa and Toyo Ito & Associates

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Toyo Ito adorns Mexico’s new Baroque museum with curved white walls

Drone video shows damaged Palmyra after ISIS occupation

March 30, 2016 by  
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Now that ISIS has been pushed out of Palmyra , archaeologists are starting to assess the damage done to the UNESCO World Heritage Site . Many expressed relief that more damage wasn’t perpetrated, yet there were still significant losses: both the Temple of Bel and the Temple of Baalshamin were blown up . There are some landmarks, such as the Roman amphitheater, that remain intact, although worse for the wear. Read the rest of Drone video shows damaged Palmyra after ISIS occupation

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