9 places you should get to before they're going..going..gone
Sumatra's Rainforest, Indonesia
The rainforests of Sumatra are areas of outstanding natural beauty – and are the habitat of some pretty adorable Sumatran orang-utans. There are also endangered Sumatran tigers, pygmy elephants and Sumatran rhinos – we're talking about an amazing ecosystem here.
The threat: poaching and illegal logging
Three national parks that run along the mountain spine of Sumatra are collectively on UNESCOs World Heritage list – and also on UNESCOs list of World Heritage in Danger. The rainforest is threatened by poaching, illegal logging and encroaching agriculture – and plans to build a road through the site aren't helping either.
The Taj Mahal, India
The beautiful Taj Mahal needs no introduction. From afar you see the stunning symmetrical design of white stone. Up close you come face to face with the intricate designs and precious inlays of the facade. It's exquisite and a must see sight for anyone planning an India tour.
The threat: pollution, groundwater and visitor damage
Even with a buffer no-industrial and no-car zone around the building, pollution continues to grow and it's causing discolouration and damage to the Taj. A decline in groundwater levels has also led to some structural issues, including cracking and leaning, and the more radical estimates give the structure less than five years before it could potentially collapse.
Plus, over two million people visit the Taj Mahal each year. That's people walking on the delicate marble floors, touching the inlay walls and generally clomping on stuff. Some sources suggest closing the Taj to visitors may eventually be on the cards.
The Dead Sea, Israel and Jordan
This famous sea has extremely high salinity – at 34%, it's one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world. It's also the lowest land on earth, with the shore at 429 metres below sea level. For visitors, a float in the extremely buoyant waters of the Dead Sea is a pretty bizarre experience.
The threat: dropping water levels
Over the last 50 years water has been diverted from the Dead Sea's main feeder, the Jordan River. This has led to a serious drop off in water levels – and at the moment levels are dropping at a rate of a metre a year. The dried up land around the lake is cracking and big sinkholes are opening up in an unpredictable and dangerous way. A pipeline is in the works to top up the Dead Sea from the Red Sea – but the environmental impacts of this are uncertain.
The Maldives consists of over 1100 islands and atolls in the Indian Ocean. Those beautiful photos of pale turquoise water and huts on stilts – that's the Maldives. These beautiful islands are the lowest land mass in the world – they're basically just a bit of sand on top of some coral.
The threat: rising sea levels
With only eight metres of height at most (and an average height of just 1.3 metres), the Maldives haven't got a lot of room to move. Every minor rise in sea level is felt on these islands. If sea levels rise at the rates that some are predicting, the Maldives could be underwater – or at least uninhabitable – by 2100.
Venice – the beautiful Italian city of art and architecture, where the streets are canals and gondolas glide between buildings. It's heavenly. Venice is actually made up of 117 islands, linked by bridges, sitting in the marshy Venetian Lagoon.
The threat: sinking buildings and rising sea levels
Venice was very definitely sinking early in the twentieth century, but the banning of the removal of ground water from the region slowed up the subsidence of the city. How fast it is currently sinking is a matter of debate, however most agree it is still slowly sinking – and combined with rising sea levels, water is very literally lapping at the door.
The birthplace of Christ, Bethlehem, Palestine
The Church of the Nativity is said to be built on the site of the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. It was first completed in 339 AD and has been rebuilt, added to and modified plenty of times since then. It was declared a World Heritage site in 2012 and immediately placed on the list of World Heritage in Danger.
The threat: water leaks and difficult governance
The roof timbers are rotting, water is seeping in, damage is being done to mosaics and paintings. There is also risk of electrical fire and any earthquake event would cause severe damage. The building is in serious need of restoration, but that will probably require the cooperation of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Franciscan order, the Israeli government and Palestinian National Authority. Not holding our breath.
Snow on Mt Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Africa's highest mountain rises majestically above the plains of Tanzania and its snow-capped peak is an icon. The hike to the summit is a classic trekking route that takes you through rainforest, rocky ravines and stark moonscapes.
The threat: rising temperatures and deforestation are reducing snow
The existence of the mountain isn't under threat, but its snowy cap is. A complicated cocktail of issues including rising global temperatures and deforestation of the lower slopes have seen the snow cap on the mountain reduce by 85% in the last 100 years.
Barrier Reef, Belize
The second biggest barrier reef in the world, the Belize Barrier Reef is a stunning Caribbean paradise of tropical fish, sea turtles and colourful coral. It stretches for 300 kilometres along Belize's coast and the warm, calm waters make it a perfect snorkelling destination.
The threat: pollution, overfishing, coral bleaching and lionfish
Belize has taken steps to protect its reef, banning bottom trawl fishing and extending reserves, however the threat to the reef continues – environmental pollution, overfishing and coral bleaching are causing serious damage this delicate ecosystem. And an invasion of Indo-Pacific lionfish aren't helping either.
Congo Basin, Africa
It's much less famous than the Amazon, but the Congo Basin holds the second largest rainforest in the world – a place of amazing bio-diversity, with over 10,000 species of plant, 1000 species of birds and 400 species of mammal. Endangered species in the basin include forest elephants, bonobos and gorillas.
The threat: mining, logging and hunting
This important rainforest is threatened by an array of illegal or unsustainable activities: logging, wildlife hunting and the extraction of petroleum, diamonds, gold and coltan. Without a serious turnaround the region could become irrevocably damaged – but the Congo lies across some of the poorest nations on earth, so change may be difficult to achieve without international assistance.