NEWS BRIEF: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge fights to gain World Heritage listing

400,000 acres, thousands of animal and plant species.

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Photo credit: Gerry Ford (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
"World Heritage site is well justified and long overdue"

In a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior, more than 30 environmental organizations around the country urge for Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge to gain a World Heritage listing. This designation would help protect Okefenokee, North America’s largest blackwater swamp, and its diverse flora and fauna from human interference, increase visibility for the Georgia/Florida swamp, and create opportunities for sustainable tourism that would benefit the region.

Elise Bennett, deputy Florida director and attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, wrote, “It’s like no place else on Earth. This unique wetland supports an astounding quantity and diversity of species, from the prehistoric-looking Suwannee alligator snapping turtle to the wizened wood stork.”

If Okefenokee’s bid is allowed, a year-long process begins where the wildlife refuge makes their case for the area’s “outstanding universal value.”

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is over 400,000 acres and contains thousands of different animal and plant species. It is the largest wildlife refuge in the Eastern United States.

“The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is one of the crown jewels of the National Wildlife Refuge system. Unique ecologically and visited by people from all over the world, recognition as a World Heritage site is well justified and long overdue,” wrote Geoffrey L. Haskett, president of the National Wildlife Refuge Association.