Australian conservation groups have written to the director-general of UNESCO warning of the Australian government's "alarming moves" to weaken the nation's environmental protections.
Last week the Morrison government rammed through environmental laws that pave the way for states to take over approvals to standards that have yet to be developed.
In the letter to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Director-General Audrey Azouley, the 13 groups argue as a ratified signatory to the World Heritage Convention, the government has a responsibility to identify, protect, and conserve world heritage sites.
These include the Great Barrier Reef, the Gondwana Rainforests, the Ningaloo Coast, the Tasmanian Wilderness and the Wet Tropics.
"Australia's World Heritage Areas are important homes for threatened wildlife like the koala, the cassowary and the grey-headed flying fox," Australian Conservation Foundation CEO, Kelly O'Shanassy said.
"But the plan to hand environmental powers to states and territories would make these species and their habitats more vulnerable than ever."
Environmental Justice Australia co-CEO, Nicola Rivers said weakening legal protection for these areas would be an international shame for Australia.
"(It would) send a shocking message that one of the wealthiest nations can't manage to safeguard its 20 World Heritage sites," Environmental Justice Australia co-CEO, Nicola Rivers said.
The letter is signed by:
Australian Conservation Foundation
Australian Marine Conservation Society
Bob Brown Foundation
Colong Foundation for Wilderness
Environmental Justice Australia
Fight For Our Reef
Humane Society International Australia
Queensland Conservation Council
Tasmanian Conservation Trust