Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has warned here that many of the protected areas - national parks and world heritage sites found in Tanzania and other African states - are susceptible to effects of climate change, treasure trove and civil conflicts.

He raised the concern during the official opening of the International Conference on "Safe guarding African World Heritage; as driver of Sustainable Development," organised by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the government of Tanzania.

"While Tanzania is doing the best in preserving the seven world heritage sites mapped within the country, it is important to raise awareness of factors that threaten these coveted places, including effects of climate change, increasing population and related human activities as well as huge development projects," he said.

The premier went on to describe as factors working to destroy such sites elsewhere in Africa as being community strife and civil wars as well as scramble for minerals, gas and other natural occurring valuables being discovered within or near world heritage sites and which attracts investors, excavators and other external forces of destruction.

"It is inconceivable that some of the poorest countries are extremely rich in natural resources like minerals, oil and gases and it is only because these resources are found within or near heritage sites, they cannot be exploited," said Majaliwa.

The prime minister was of the view that experts should come up with appropriate technology that would allow exploitation without necessarily impairing the 'Outstanding Universal Values,' (OUV) for the heritage sites for what should be the win-win situation between development and conservation.

"While tourism related socio-economic values of these sites are undeniably commendable, there is the general feeling among African countries and Tanzania in particular, that more avenues for sustainable developments can be explored from them," said Majaliwa.

Previously, the Prime Minister and Head of State of Bermuda, Dr Donald Smith, also warned of challenges emanating from pressures of development projects and the zest to continue protecting world heritage sites as well as other important reserves in the world.

On his part, the Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, Prof Jumanne Maghembe, said Tanzania, like other African States Parties, was protecting the seven heritage sites in line with UNESCO's 1972 Convention which the country had ratified in 1977.

The World Heritage Sites found in Tanzania include the Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Stone Town of Zanzibar, Kondoa Rock Paintings and Kilwa Ruins .

The five-day events of the meeting take place at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) complex here with the delegates expected to later on wind up the meeting at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority which is one of the UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.

Source: Nam News Network