SEVEN-WONDERS PICTURES: Natural-World Finalists Named

SEVEN-WONDERS PICTURES: Natural-World Finalists Named
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Anavilhanas Reserve, Brazil

Researchers collect fish in Brazil's Anavilhanas Reserve in the Amazon Basin, which contains more than half of the planet's remaining rain forests.

On July 21, 2009, the species-rich region was named one of 28 finalists for the New7Wonders of Nature, a global contest that allows people to vote for the seven wonders of the natural world by Internet and phone, American Idol style.

(See all 28 of the finalists on the New7Wonders Web site.)

An expert panel helped the New7Wonders Foundation--the brainchild of Swiss filmmaker and museum curator Bernard Weber--choose the finalists based on unique beauty, ecological significance, and historical legacy, among other criteria.

"This is an extraordinary achievement and the eyes of the planet will be upon these 28 stunning locations for the next two years," Weber said in a statement.

Chosen by what the foundation hopes will be a billion voters, the winning seven wonders are to be announced in 2011.

In July 2007 the foundation announced the New Seven Wonders of the World, backed by more than a hundred million votes.

Jonathan Tourtellot, director of the National Geographic Society's Center for Sustainable Destinations, warns that the new natural wonders may be inundated with harmful tourism if their countries do not have a robust stewardship ethic. (The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News.)

"When you draw attention to a place, you are automatically raising the tourism ante on that place. So if the place is not prepared for the increasing tourism that something like this might create, then there could be problems," he said.

But the Amazon, which spans 2,702,715 square miles (7 million square kilometers) in nine countries, is "not suffering from excess tourism, it's suffering from not enough tourism as a counterpoint for other uses in the Amazon Basin," such as lumbering or large-scale farming, Tourtellot explained.

--Christine Dell'Amore
—Photograph by James P. Blair, NGS Image Collection
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