On Earth Day, 20 Gorgeous Photos Of Natural Wonders Under Threat

04/22/2014 08:59 am ET | Updated Apr 22, 2014

April 22 marks Earth Day, the annual U.N.-sponsored event to celebrate the planet and raise awareness of the impact that humanity has on the natural world. As people and governments across the globe honor the date, The WorldPost looks into some of Earth's wonders that face destruction at the hands of men. Take a look at the images below and expand your knowledge of these natural treasures in peril.

1. Virunga National Park

Africa's most diverse park is home to rare mountain gorillas and a series of active volcanoes. Oil exploration and the ongoing brutal conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo currently pose dire threats to the park's survival.

virunga (Brent Stirton via Getty Images)

virunga

(Steve Terill/AFP/Getty Images)

2. Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System

The idyllic stretch of waters is home to an ecosystem that includes threatened species such as manatees and crocodiles. Excessive development and illegal hunting currently imperil the natural balance of the reef.

belize barrier reef (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)

belize reef (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach)

3. The Marshall Islands

The tiny, stunning atolls that make up the Marshall Islands are very close to sea level, which makes them particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The photo below was made during recent flooding that drove thousands from their homes.

kiribati (Giff Johnson/AFP/Getty Images)

marshall islands (Yuri Cortez//AFP/Getty Images)

4. Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra

This 2.5 million hectare rainforest in Indonesia is home to a wealth of biodiversity, including endangered Sumatran orangutans. Logging and illegal poaching are a few of the dangers the park is faced with.

sumatra rainforest (Romea Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)

sumatra rainforest (Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

5. Mount Kilimanjaro

Immortalized by Hemingway, the crown of Africa's highest mountain could fade into memory within a few short decades. Studies indicate that the iconic snows of Mount Kilimanjaro are falling victim to rising temperatures brought on by climate change. The second photo shows some of the peak's melting ice caps.

kilimanjaro snow (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

kilimanjaro snow (Sisse Brimberg and Cotton Coulson/Getty Images)

6. Bamiyan Valley

Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley is a majestic UNESCO World Heritage Site that has sadly been ravaged by the nation's lengthy war, leaving areas of it inaccessible due to antipersonnel mines.

bamiyan valley (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images

bamiyan valley (Massoud Hossaini//AFP/Getty Images)

7. The Florida Everglades

The degradation of the Everglades as a result of development and reduced water flows has resulted in a reduction of the animal life in the sprawling park and put it under threat of further decline.

everglades (Joe Raedle/Getty Images>

everglades (AP Photo/Julie Fletcher)

8. The Dead Sea

With its salted waters and extremely low elevation, the Dead Sea is another natural wonder that sadly seems to be slowly receding into nothingness. Lack of water flow is causing the waters to dry up and the sea to shrink at threatening rates. A proposed water pipeline to replenish the sea has been agreed upon, but there are worries that it might further upset the natural balance of the region.

dead sea israel (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

dead sea israel (Pavel Kassin/Kommersant Photo via Getty Images)

9. Madagascar's Rainforest

The unique flora and fauna of Madagascar's rainforest have made the island a naturalists' dream for centuries, but as deforestation increases, the threat of destruction of habitat looms larger than ever.

madagascar rainforest (Nick Garbutt/Barcroft Media / Getty Images)

madagascar rainforest (Nick Garbutt/Barcroft Media / Getty Images)

10. Air and Tenere National Park

Niger's Air and Tenere National park is Africa's largest protected area and home to a diverse ecosystem. Military conflict and unrest have long been threats to the gorgeous desert landscape of the park.

tenere reserve (DEA / S. Amantini/De Agostini/Getty Images)

tenere reserve (DEA / S. Amantini/De Agostini/Getty Images)

Suggest a correction
155 Comments

CONVERSATIONS