The Central Highlands of Sri Lanka and Papahānaumokuākea in Hawai’i were added to the list of World Heritage sites by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, currently meeting in Brasilia. The Committee continues its consideration of natural sites for inscription.
Originally submitted for inscription as a mixed cultural and natural site, only the outstanding natural values of the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka were recognized by the Committee.
Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands are of prime importance for biodiversity conservation. Its largely undisturbed forests are home to the unique Sri Lanka Leopard, and the only habitats of many threatened plants and animals.
“This new inscription recognises and strengthens the conservation efforts of the Sri Lankan government,” says Tim Badman, Head of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. “IUCN supports the request of the World Heritage Committee for a new management plan of the site to be established by Sri Lanka within a year”.
Papahānaumokuākea was added to the World Heritage List as a mixed natural and cultural site. One of the largest marine protected areas on the world, the site exemplifies both the critical importance of our seas for world heritage and the inextricable link between culture and nature.
Papahānaumokuākea comprises a major portion of the world’s longest and oldest volcanic chain, and is a unique testimony of hotspot volcanism. Many endangered or threatened species live in Papahānaumokuākea, and some depend solely on its habitats for survival. They include the critically endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal, four endemic bird species, and six species of endangered plants such as the Fan Palm.
Because of its isolation and high degree of protection, Papahānaumokuākea provides unrivalled examples of reef ecosystems which are still dominated by top predators such as sharks,” says Tim Badman. “This feature has been lost from most other island environments due to human activity.”
As the advisory body on natural sites to UNESCO, IUCN conducted thorough expert evaluation missions to candidate sites throughout the year, and presented its recommendations to the World Heritage Committee, currently meeting in Brasilia, Brazil.
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