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– New World Heritage: China’s Bird Joy, Iran’s Ancient Forest

BAKU, Azerbaijan, July 13, 2019 (ENS) – The World Heritage Committee inscribed 29 new pure and cultural sites on UNESCO’s World Heritage Listing during this yr’s session, which befell in Baku from June 30 to July 10 beneath the chairmanship of Azerbaijan’s Minister of Culture Abulfas Garayev. The Committee additionally examined the state of conservation of 166 websites already inscribed on the World Heritage Listing, 54 of that are on the Record of World Heritage in Hazard.

The World Heritage Committee inscribed four new natural websites on the UNESCO’s World Heritage Listing – one defending migratory chook sanctuaries in China, another safeguarding historic broadleaf forests in Iran, the third defending the huge French Austral Lands and Seas in the southern Indian Ocean, and the fourth is Iceland’s Vatnajökull Nationwide Park with its 10 volcanoes and endemic groundwater animals that survived the Ice Age.

Black-necked cranes on the Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf World Heritage website alongside the coast of the Yellow Sea and Bohai Gulf in Yancheng, in east China’s Jiangsu Province (Photograph courtesy CCTV by way of Xinhua)

In addition, one new combined pure and cultural website was inscribed on the listing – Brazil’s Paraty and Ilha Grande, which protects the historic middle of the coastal city of Paraty and 4 protected natural areas of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, one of the world’s key biodiversity hotspots.

In China, the migratory hen sanctuaries alongside the coast of China’s Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf are on an intertidal mudflat system thought-about to be the most important on the planet. These mudflats, in addition to marshes and shoals, are exceptionally productive and function progress areas for a lot of species of fish and crustaceans.

The intertidal areas of the Yellow Sea-Gulf of Bohai are a paradise of worldwide significance for the gathering of migratory hen species that use the East Asian-Australasian flyway. Giant gatherings of birds, including a number of the world’s most endangered species, depend upon the coastline as a stopover to molt, relaxation, winter or nest.

In Iran, Hyrcanian forests type a singular forested massif that stretches 850 kilometers along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. The history of those broad-leaved forests dates again 25 to 50 million years once they coated most of this Northern Temperate area. These historic forest areas retreated through the Quaternary glaciations and then expanded once more as the climate turned milder.

The Quaternary glaciation, also called the Pleistocene glaciation, is an alternating collection of glacial and interglacial durations through the previous 2.58 million years and is ongoing. Since earth nonetheless has ice sheets, geologists contemplate the Quaternary glaciation to be ongoing, with Earth now experiencing an interglacial period.


A stuffed Caucasus Leopard, Panthera pardus tulliana, from 1865 within the Georgian National Museum (Photograph by Jonathan Cardy by way of Wikipedia)

The biodiversity of these forests is exceptional: 44 % of the vascular crops recognized in Iran are found within the Hyrcanian area, which only covers seven % of the country. Up to now, 180 species of birds typical of broad-leaved temperate forests and 58 mammal species have been recorded, together with the long-lasting Persian Leopard, Panthera pardus tulliana.

The French Austral Lands and Seas, an enormous, magnificent oceanic island and marine system bigger than mainland France, turned the world’s largest World Heritage website, which covers the Crozet Archipelago, the Kerguelen Islands, Saint-Paul and Amsterdam Islands in addition to 60 small sub-Antarctic islands.

This “oasis” in the midst of the Southern Ocean covers an space of greater than 67 million hectares and helps one of many highest concentrations of birds and marine mammals on the earth, including the most important population of King Penguins and Yellow-nosed albatrosses on the earth. The remoteness of those islands from facilities of human exercise makes them well-preserved showcases of organic evolution and a singular terrain for scientific research.

The volcanic region of Vatnajökull Nationwide Park covers an area of over 1.4 million hectares, almost 14 % of Iceland’s territory. It takes in 10 central volcanoes, eight of which are subglacial. Two of these are among the many most lively in Iceland.

The interplay between volcanoes and the rifts that underlie the Vatnajökull ice cap takes many varieties. Probably the most spectacular is the jökulhlaup, a sudden flood brought on by the breach of the margin of a glacier during an eruption. This recurrent phenomenon has led to the emergence of distinctive sandur plains, river techniques and rapidly evolving canyons.

In Brazil, the new combined website, Paraty and Ilha Grande, situated between the Serra da Bocaina mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean, consists of the historic middle of Paraty, certainly one of Brazil’s best-preserved coastal cities.

In Brazil’s Atlantic Forest the location is likely one of the world’s five key biodiversity hotspots with an broad variety of species, some of which are threatened, such because the jaguar, Panthera onca, the white-lipped peccary, Tayassu pecari, and a number of other primate species, including the woolly spider monkey, Brachyteles arachnoides.

On July 5 in the course of the Baku session, the World Heritage Centre and companions introduced the scope, goal, and anticipated deliverables of the Resilient Reefs climate adaptation initiative.


Scuba diver explores the Belize Barrier Reef, Jan. three, 2011 (Photograph by Hans Alseike)

This four-year US$9 million public-private consortium will construct climate resilience management in an initial 5 UNESCO World Heritage Listed coral reefs, together with Rock Islands Southern Lagoon in Palau; the Lagoons of New Caledonia, a French territory; the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, as well as the Ningaloo Coast and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, based mostly in Geneva, is an Advisory Body to the World Heritage Committee. After gathering enter from the IUCN delegation he headed in Baku, Peter Shadie, director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme, expressed disappointment that the suggestions of the IUCN and other Advisory Our bodies as typically disregarded by the Committee.

“I am often asked how do the Advisory Bodies feel when their recommendations are so routinely overturned. It is a good question. Indeed it can be hard to stay positive when so much diligent technical work appears to be given little consideration, thus giving the impression that improving the situation on the ground for sites is not a priority.”

“No matter our efforts and the quality of our advice, we continue to see many of the most threatened sites deteriorate,” stated Shadie.

“It has been particularly disheartening this year to hear references to sustainable development as a reason to water down conservation standards,” Shadie stated. “At a time when the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES, calls for transformative change to protect fast deteriorating ecosystems and biodiversity, the world needs better development models,” he stated.

“Natural World Heritage sites can and do provide these models. They contribute to many Sustainable Development Goals, and their conservation should not be perceived as at odds with development needs,” stated Shadie.


Vaquita, the world’s smallest and most endangered marine mammal, within the Gulf of California, 2008 (Photograph by Tom Jefferson / NOAA)

“The World Heritage Convention remains one of the most effective instruments for nature conservation, and we can only strive to maintain and restore its reputation,” Shadie stated. “Seeing this bigger picture is what keeps us positive. It is why, as a team and as an organization, we will never give up on quality and belief in the World Heritage Convention’s true potential.”

Hazard itemizing is now seen as discouraging to governments. Shadie explained that “the List of World Heritage in Danger is meant to be a constructive mechanism giving urgent support to the most threatened sites. However, he said, “it seems many Committee members perceive danger listing as a discouragement for States Parties.”

Of the three danger-listing recommendations by IUCN, only one – the Gulf of California in Mexico – was adopted with the State Get together’s agreement. The identical advice had been rejected in earlier Committees, regardless of the dramatic state of affairs of the vaquita porpoise, one of the world’s 100 most threatened species, whose population is now close to extinction.

However, in Baku the Committee did not take into accounts the recommendation to inscribe the Sundarbans of Bangladesh or Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia and Albania on the Hazard Record despite what Shadie calls “a critical state of conservation.”

One reputable concern with hazard itemizing is that it does not set off vital direct funding to help websites in hassle, Shadie stated. “While in many cases it has generated additional international assistance, there is no explicit and direct financial incentive to danger-listing and many countries see it as unhelpful. Supporting sites in danger should be the Convention’s first duty, and we must restore that mission.”

“We now see the Committee modifying the majority of Advisory Body recommendations (83.7 percent) to push decisions to be more favorable for nominations and softer on conservation commitments,” Shadie warned. “Unchecked, this widely acknowledged politicization of decision-making can lead to severe credibility concerns and undermine the Convention.”

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