10 Natural Sites Placed on UNESCO Heritage List
CAIRNS, Australia, December 4, 2000 - Ten of the Earth's most fragile and precious places have been inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List which now contains 690 sites.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee concluded its annual meeting here December 2. The 21 member committee determines the inclusion of natural sites on the World Heritage List on the recommendation of the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
The committee chose to list 61 new cultural and natural sites this year. A Heritage listing helps in the raising of funds and passage of legislation to protect the designated area.
The 10 natural sites listed this year are:
ARGENTINA. Ischigualasto - Talampaya Natural Parks. These two contiguous parks, extending
over 275,300 hectares (ha) in the desert region on the western border of the Sierra
Pampeanas of central Argentina, contain the most complete fossil record known from the
Triassic Period (245-208 million years ago). Six geological formations in the parks contain
fossils of a wide range of ancestors of mammals, revealing the evolution of vertebrates
and the nature of palaeo-environments in the Triassic Period.
AUSTRALIA. The Greater Blue Mountains Area.
Eucalypt forest in the Blue Mountains. (Photos courtesy UNESCO)The Greater Blue Mountains Area consists of
1.03 million ha of mostly forested landscape on a deeply-incised sandstone plateau
60-180km inland from central Sydney. The site comprises eight protected areas in two
blocks separated by a transportation and urban development corridor. The site is
particularly noted for its wide and balanced representation of eucalyptus habitats
including wet and dry sclerophyll, mallee heathlands, as well as localised swamps,
wetlands, and grassland. Ninety eucalyptus taxa (13% of the world's total) occur in the
Greater Blue Mountains. The sites hosts several evolutionary relic species; such as the
Wollemia pine, which have persisted in highly-restricted microsites.
BOLIVIA. Noel Kempff Mercado National Park. The National Park is one of the largest
(1,523,000 ha) and most intact parks in the Amazon Basin. With an altitudinal range of
200m to nearly 1,000m, it is the site of a rich mosaic of habitat types from Cerrado
savannah and forest to upland evergreen Amazonian forests. The park boasts an
evolutionary history dating back over a billion years to the Precambrian period. An
estimated 4,000 species of flora as well as over 600 bird species and viable populations of
many globally endangered or threatened vertebrate species live in the park.
BRAZIL. Jaú National Park.
Jaú National Park is the largest national park in the Amazon
Basin, and one of the planet's richest regions in terms of biological diversity. Established
in 1986 to protect the entire watershed of the Jaú River, the park has an area of
2,272,000 ha. The Jaú River is considered the best example of a "blackwater ecosystem"
(the name is taken from the colour given to the water by the decomposition of organic
matter and the lack of terrestrial sediments). The park not only protects the hydrological
basin of the Jaú River, but also a large proportion of the diverse species associated with
the blackwater system.
BRAZIL. Pantanal Conservation Complex. The Pantanal Conservation Complex consists of a
cluster of four protected areas with a total area of 187,818 ha. Located in western
central Brazil at the south-west corner of the State of Mato Grosso, the site represents
1.3% of Brazil's Pantanal region, one of the world's largest freshwater wetland
ecosystems. The headwaters of the region's two major river systems, the Cuiabá and the
Paraguay rivers, are located here, and the abundance and diversity of its vegetation and
animal life are spectacular.
ITALY. Isole Eolie (Aeolian Islands).
The Aeolian Islands provide an outstanding record of
volcanic island-building and destruction, and ongoing volcanic phenomena. Studied since
at least the 18th century, the islands have provided the science of vulcanology with
examples of two types of eruption (Vulcanian and Strombolian) and thus have featured
prominently in the education of geologists for more than 200 years. The site continues to
enrich the field of vulcanology.
MALAYSIA. Kinabalu Park. Kinabalu Park, in the State of Sabah on the northern end of the
island of Borneo, is dominated by Mount Kinabalu (4,095m), the highest mountain
between the Himalayas and New Guinea. It has a very wide range of habitats, ranging
from rich tropical lowland and hill rainforest to tropical mountain forest, sub-alpine forest
and scrub on the higher elevations. It has been designated as a Centre of Plant Diversity
for Southeast Asia and is exceptionally rich in species with examples of flora from the
Himalayas, China, Australia, Malaysia, as well as pan-tropical flora.
MALAYSIA. The Gunung Mulu National Park.
Malaysia's Gunung Mulu National Park
Important both for its high biodiversity and for its
karst features, Gunung Mulu National Park, on the island of Borneo in the State of
Sarawak, is the most studied tropical karst area in the world. The 52,864-ha park
contains 17 vegetation zones, exhibiting some 3,500 species of vascular plants. Its palm
species are exceptionally rich, with 109 species in 20 genera noted. The park is
dominated by Gunung Mulu, a 2,377m-high pinnacle karst, which is said to be the most
cavernous mountain in the world. At least 295km of explored caves provide a spectacular
sight and are home to millions of cave swiftlets and bats. The Sarawak Chamber, 600m
by 415m and 80m high, is the largest known cave chamber in the world.
SURINAME. Central Suriname Nature Reserve. The Central Suriname Nature Reserve comprises
1.6 million ha of primary tropical forest of west-central Suriname. It protects the upper
watershed of the Coppename River and covers a range of topography and ecosystems of
notable conservation value due to its pristine state. Its montane and lowland forests
contain a high diversity of plant life with almost 6,000 vascular plant species collected to
date. The Reserve's animals are typical of the region and include the jaguar, giant
armadillo, giant river otter, tapir, sloths, eight species of primates and 400 bird species.
SWEDEN. The High Coast. The High Coast is an archipelago located on the west shore of
the Gulf of Bothnia, a northern extension of the Baltic Sea. The area covers 142,500 ha
including a marine component of 80,000 ha, which includes a number of offshore islands.
The irregular topography of the region, a series of lakes, inlets and flat hills rising to
350m, is largely shaped by the combined processes of glaciation, glacial retreat and the
emergence of new land from the sea which continues today at a rate of 0.9m per
century. Since the final retreat of the ice from the High Coast 9,600 years ago, the uplift
has been in the order of 285-294m which is the highest evident "rebound" known to man.