World Heritage

Benefits of natural World Heritage

Identifying and assessing ecosystem services and benefits provided by the world's natural wonders
Tasmanian Wilderness, Australia

The Benefits of Natural World Heritage is a project identifying and assessing the diversity of ecosystem services, and in turn the benefits that World Heritage sites can deliver to society and the economy.

Its main purpose is to increase awareness and understanding of the full range of direct and indirect benefits that local, national and global communities can receive from natural World Heritage sites. Examples of benefits, in addition to biodiversity conservation, include the prevention of floods, opportunities for tourism, cultural and spiritual values and the provision of food and water.

Supported by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), the project includes two publications, published in 2014 and 2018 respectively, as well as interactive tools, including a map and a decision tree available on worldheritageoutlook.iucn.org.

The Benefits of Natural World Heritage Photo: IUCN

"The Benefits of Natural World Heritage: identifying and assessing ecosystem services and benefits provided by the world's most iconic natural places" (2014) is the project’s flagship publication exploring the full range of benefits provided by natural World Heritage sites globally and at the site level, and assessing two specific ecosystem services (standing carbon and water provision) using spatial data.

The study was carried out by IUCN and UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC)

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Tools for measuring, modelling, and valuing ecosystem services Photo: IUCN "Tools for measuring, modelling, and valuing ecosystem services: Guidance for Key Biodiversity Areas, natural World Heritage sites, and protected areas" (2018) helps practitioners assess ecosystem services within important sites for biodiversity and nature conservation. The report reviews nine assessment tools and includes a set of “decision trees” to save time on the complex process of selecting the most appropriate tool for one’s specific needs.

Part of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas’ Best Practice Guidelines series, it results from a collaboration between 20 experts in the field.

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