Many national parks of high tourist value are being flooded by rising numbers of tourists and suffer from insufficient or inappropriate planning and management. Such parks, particularly in the developing countries, represent a major source of income which could be jeopardized if they deteriorate. Valuable wildlands are threatened by pressure detrimental to their protection and use. Damage frequently arises from a lack of understanding or interest, particularly in some developing countries, of the value of such wildlands. Deterioration often results from a lack of knowledge, or political or economic considerations generally inhibiting or delaying the required action, until the parks exist on paper only. The possibilities of such deterioration increase whenever a park or otherwise protected area is shared by two or more countries.
The Laguna San Ignacio in Baja, California, Mexico was designated as a whale sanctuary in 1976. In 1988 it was included in the largest international biosphere reserve in Latin America, (Vizciano Biosphere Reserve) and in 1993 was listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site. It is the last undisturbed gray whale breeding and calving area in the world and is of unique importance to the survival of the species. This site is threatened by a proposed salt works that would physically alter the ecosystem ie loss of habitat, as well as increase the risks of accidents with ships, the bioaccumulation of contaminants in the whales and of noise and waste with an increased human presence in the area.
The proposed saltworks in Baja the World heritage site and gray whale sanctuary would create a massive 116 square mile industrial landscape (larger than the area of the whale sanctuary), of evaporation ponds, a million ton salt stockpile, the industrial infrastructure and the facilities to support 200 employees while on site.The upper end of Laguna San Ignacio will have 17 pumps operating 24 hours a day to draw 6,600 gallons of saltwater per second from the lagoon into the evaporation ponds. The associated contamination will include oil, diesel and concentrated brine waste, which if the scheme is allowed will be dumped into the adjacent Bahia de las Ballenas - Bay of whales.
The flooding of 116 square miles of coastal tidal flats and mangroves will disturb the habitat of terrestrial species altering the tidal and runoff patterns and affecting the migratory birds. The extraction of saltwater will inevitable include small and young fish adversely affecting the fisheries of the region.