| || In the most Southern part of the Florida peninsula, the Okeechobee Lake's freshwater meets the Gulf of Mexico's saltwater in the swamps covered by the Everglade mangroves. The Everglades have suffered from works to dry them out and embank them for urbanisation and agriculture since 1880 and now only cover half their original surface area. Since 1947, the Everglade's National Park's 6 000 km2 protect a fifth of the original area. Abundant and diverse wildlife - including 40 species of mammals like the lamantin, threatened with extinction and 347 species of bird - find shelter there. The biological richness of these environments has everyone in agreement : it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1976, and since 1987, the Everglades Park has been declared an Internationally Important Wetland. This did not stop it from joining the sad list of World Heritage Sites in danger in 1993. Demographic growth (there are 900 more people in Florida every day), agricultural, industrial and urban pollution could get the better of this exceptional place. To prevent a disaster that would not only be environmental, but also economic, a programme on an unequalled scale has been set up to restore the Everglades ecosystem to keep providing the region with drinking water and stop sea water from seeping into a water table that is in very high demand.
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