Six Natural Wonders Join World Heritage Sites Family
Six natural wonders from around the world have been newly inscribed on the prestigious World Heritage Sites List after being recommended by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as reported by IUCN via Science Daily.
Two among the regions that were nominated and chosen, Chad and Palau, will be joining the World Heritage Sites family for the very first time. The new additions to the list were determined by the 21-nation panel of the World Heritage Committee.
The new six World Heritage Sites are:
Sangha Trinational – a chain of national parks located between the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic that is home to a rich diversity of plants and animals, including elephants and critically endangered species (Western Lowland Gorilla, etc.).
Lakes of Ounianga, Chad – called the jewel of the Sahara, these lakes are the relics of a single lake that occupied the basin thousands of years ago. This series of permanent, generally freshwater lakes are located in northeastern Chad.
Chengjiang Fossil Site, China – is the “iconic” site of several noteworthy fossils of species important to the scientific study of species diversification, known as the Cambrian explosion.
Lena Pillars Nature Park, Russia – the Siberian Musk Deer, the Siberian chipmunk, the Red Deer, and 99 species of nesting birds can be found in this incredible natural rock formation along Lena River.
Western Ghats, India – this 160,000 km² area featuring mountains, waterfalls, and rainforests is a known global biodiversity hotspot supporting endangered endemic species such as the lion-tailed Macaque and endangered Asian elephant and tigers.
Rock Islands Southern Lagoon, Palau – UNESCO describes the site as having the highest concentration of marine lakes anywhere in the world, with a complex reef system supporting over 385 coral species. The 445 limestone islands sustain rich biodiversity and highly endemic populations.
With the six new additions the World Heritage List has grown to 217 natural and mixed (both natural and cultural) sites at present. The World Heritage Programme aims to promote conservation, protection, and proper management of such naturally and culturally rich areas through monitoring and initiatives implementation. IUCN works with several partner organizations such as UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), African World Heritage Fund, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), and German International Cooperation (GIZ) among others. Nikita Lopoukhine, Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, discusses the implications and dynamics at play in determining protected sites in his To List or Not to List – That is the Question! According to Lopoukhine, conservation remains the underpinning purpose of the Convention, but politics tend to exert influence on the advisory body. Lopoukhine applauds the team’s continuing integrity and commitment to fairness and faithfulness in the face of attacks and criticism brought on by self-serving political agendas.
Lopoukhine shares that once quality sites such as the six mentioned above are successfully listed, “…the decision is greeted with deafening rounds of applause and congratulatory hugs among delegates.”
The world shares in their applause as such sites are given acknowledgment and importance, and hope that the riches they represent might thrive all the more for this generation and the next.
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