Discover some of the most spectacular places on Earth, designated by UNESCO as natural world heritage sites. There are 252 sites to explore – iconic places such as Yellowstone, Serengeti, the Galapagos Islands, the Sichuan Giant Panda reserves and Uluru (‘Ayers Rock’), as well as lesser-known sites like the forests of Brazil’s Atlantic Coast, the mysterious Lakes of Ounianga in the heart of the Sahara Desert, and the fabulous fossil sites of Egypt’s Wadi Al-Hitan.
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This is a celebration of nature at its best …. the world’s most spectacular wildlife and wild places, its rolling savannas, parched deserts, steamy rainforests and glacier-capped mountains. Places that have been chosen for inclusion on the prestigious world heritage list, after careful international scrutiny against rigorous selection criteria. Here you will find a unique window into this global heritage, with a slideshow to tell the story of each of these special places, with maps, information and expert insight.
It is also a call to action, for whilst the world recognises the ‘outstanding universal value’ of these remarkable places, it has been less successful in ensuring their conservation in a real, practical sense. Many of the ‘gold standard’ places featured here are suffering the consequences of inadequate resources, poor management, poaching, civil unrest and low levels of political support. Indeed, 17 of them are in such poor shape as to be on the official ‘List of World Heritage In Danger’, while the conservation outlook for more than a third of these places is ‘critical’ or ‘of significant concern’ according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). But there is hope. As awareness grows people are fighting back – and through the efforts of individuals, communities and institutions the tide is turning, providing better protection and management of this unique natural heritage.