Following the recommendations of the World Conservation Union, three new sites have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List
Madagascan rainforests, South China’s karst landscapes, and Korea’s Jeju volcanic island were added as natural sites to the prestigious World Heritage List today.
After a year-long rigorous evaluation process, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), which is the technical advisory body on natural heritage, presented its recommendations to the World Heritage Committee, currently meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Rainforests of the Atsinanana, Madagascar
Following IUCN’s recommendation, the Committee inscribed the eastern Madagascan Rainforests of the Atsinanana on the World Heritage List because of their globally outstanding biodiversity. These forests are critically important for maintaining the island’s unique plants and animals, 80 to 90% of which can only be found in Madagascar. The serial site inscribed includes six national parks and comprises a representative selection of the most important habitats of unique rainforest life.
Following the inscription, a delegation from Madagascar noted that this is a wonderful present for the country and also supports the commendable vision of the country’s President to triple the size of Madagascar’s protected area system. The Committee in turn applauded the tremendous efforts of Madagascar in protecting its remaining eastern rainforests, more than 90% of whose original extent has already been lost to deforestation.
Senator Christine Milne, IUCN Vice-President and a member of the IUCN delegation in Christchurch, said: “The inscription of the exceptionally diverse rainforests of eastern Madagascar on the World Heritage List, following IUCN’s positive recommendation, is a great success story for Madagascar and global biodiversity conservation.”
South China Karst, China
South China is unrivalled for the diversity of its karst landscapes. The inscribed site comprises three clusters, Libo, Shilin and Wulong, which have been specifically selected to protect and present the best examples of these karst landscapes in the world. The site includes superlative cone and tower karsts, stone forests, and impressive natural bridges. These karst landscapes have also strongly influenced the cultural identity and traditions of minority groups in these areas.
David Sheppard, Head of the IUCN delegation in Christchurch, said: “The South China Karst site represents one of the world’s most spectacular examples of karst landscapes. IUCN particularly welcomes the recognition of the importance of the meaningful involvement of local people in the management of this World Heritage site.”
Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes, Republic of Korea
The Republic of Korea expressed its commitment to further promoting the outstanding universal value of all its World Heritage sites. These now include Korea’s first natural World Heritage site, which covers 10% of Jeju island and comprises a shield volcano which is some 1.2 million years old and rises to 1,950 m with Mount Hallasan, Korea’s highest peak. Jeju’s Geomunoreum lava tube system is regarded as the finest such cave system in the world, and the inscribed site includes further distinctive features such as the Seongsan Ilchulbong tuff cone. Together, these features demonstrate the different stages of the evolution of the island’s volcanic system.
After today’s decisions by the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee, the World Heritage List now includes 165 natural sites. The Committee continues to meet in Christchurch until 2 July. It will consider IUCN’s recommendations on further natural nominations tomorrow and also consider the inscription of cultural sites on to the World Heritage List.
Notes to editors
The IUCN delegation present in Christchurch, New Zealand, will be reporting back from the meeting on a regular basis between 23 June and 2 July. Regular updates can be found on www.iucn.org.
More information on the World Heritage Convention and the List of World Heritage sites can be found at: whc.unesco.org.
Before the meeting in Christchurch, the World Heritage List included 830 sites in 184 States Parties: 644 cultural, 162 natural and 24 mixed (cultural and natural) sites.
IUCN, whose independent advisory role is enshrined in the text of the World Heritage Convention, has been involved in the Convention since its inception, having played a major part in drafting the text with UNESCO in 1972. IUCN undertakes technical evaluations of the natural values of the sites nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List and has evaluated several hundred nominated sites. Further information on IUCN’s World Heritage work is available at: web
Additionally, each year IUCN reports to the World Heritage Centre on the conservation status of certain natural and mixed World Heritage sites under threat. IUCN’s assessments on what is happening in World Heritage sites are derived from a variety of sources: IUCN members, indigenous peoples groups, the scientific community, experts from IUCN commissions and concerned individuals and organizations.
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About the World Conservation Union (IUCN)
Created in 1948, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) brings together 84 States, 108 government agencies, 800 plus NGOs, and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. The Union’s mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.
The Union is the world's largest environmental knowledge network and has helped over 75 countries to prepare and implement national conservation and biodiversity strategies. The Union is a multicultural, multilingual organization with 1,000 staff located in 62 countries. Its headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland.
More information can be found at www.iucn.org