We expand cities and our living space, forests are cut down because we need wood and land, coral reefs are being stepped on by millions of tourists every year. Where ever humans are, they leave their marks on the environment until it is almost too late. Here are the most endangered places on our planet.
Leave only footprints, take only memories.
It is a quote not nearly enough people live by. Ethical travel is becoming more popular, but we still have a negative impact on our environment to the point where it is just a matter of years until some of the most beautiful places on the planet will have disappeared. Not just animals can be endangered; there are also a number of places which could vanish very soon.
Ice caps and oceans
Climate change has a number of consequences and weighs heavily on our environment. Some of the most affected areas are where ice is melting. The Arctic, Antarctica and Glacier National Park are all in danger of melting away. The ice caps hold most of the freshwater on the planet - almost 90 per cent - and the rising temperatures are causing the ice to melt.
As often in nature, there is a domino effect: The melting ice and sea levels are rising. Oceans are rising so far in fact, that over time, island nations are threatened to disappear as well. Micronesia and Polynesia are already endangered places.
The other repercussion is on the animal kingdom. The icon of climate change is the image of the lone polar bear perched on a small patch of ice because they are one of the most affected by the melting ice. Along with emperor penguins and sea lions, polar bears deal with the loss of ice on a daily basis and marine animals overall have to adapt with the rising water temperatures.
The change in temperatures and the water pollution leave their marks on other marine areas. In the Coral Triangle, fishing is the main income for locals and the reefs are over-exploited. Lately, coral bleaching has been a serious concern, yet another side effect of global warming.
And even closer to home, over 22,500 in the Mediterranean Sea are at risk due to the human activities in the sea, the high ship traffic and water pollution.
All over the world, forests are disappearing and with it the animals who call the forest home.
Orangutans have it hard. Not only are a third of them threatened by recent forest fires but logging, and palm oil plantations destroy 1.8 million hectares of forest in Indonesia and another 1.2 million in Borneo. The Indonesia' rainforest is home to 7.5 per cent of the planet's biodiversity and species such as Orangutans have less than 20 years to live at this rate of destruction.
Ten per cent of all species found on Earth live in the Amazon Rainforest. It is a very vulnerable environment, and cutting it down for logging and farming is not only detrimental to the forest itself, but to our environment as it holds billions of tons of carbon which would otherwise go straight into the atmosphere.
In Africa, the most threatened forests are in Madagascar and the Eastern Arc Mountains along Tanzania and Kenya. Three quarters of the original vegetation has been destroyed: Agriculture - both farming and cattle - and logging have fragmented the habitats of the species unique to those areas.
Illegal hunting and fishing is a problem all over the world. In the Himalayas however, it is one of the reasons why the world's highest mountains are threatened. Deforestation, the ice melting from the mountain peaks and illegal animal poaching are seriously endangering the area. Exotic species such as Snow Leopards, Bengal Tigers and the Ganges River Dolphin are endangered and the Red Panda, also home to the area, is vulnerable according to the ICUN Red List.
Seeing the most beautiful places on Earth disappear is a sad sight, but there are a number of ways to help! Here are some ideas to see these beautiful endangered places before it is too late and do your part to try and conserve the animals and their habitat:
Amazon Rainforest Conservation in Peru
Projects all around Madagascar
See more from our volunteers #Frontiervolunteer