The purpose of this website is to raise awareness of natural world heritage sites, and help build an informed ‘constituency’ of people to support their conservation. The outstanding value of each of these places has been recognized internationally through a rigorous process of selection for the World Heritage List and they deserve to be given the highest priority for conservation. If conservation is successful here, these places can serve as ‘ambassadors for conservation’ and ‘models of best practice’ for other national parks and protected areas around the world. And if this website can contribute to that effort it will have achieved a worthwhile outcome.
By most measures humanity is enjoying an unprecedented ‘golden age’ in which we have achieved enormous success in expanding our populations and improving living standards. But this has come at a heavy price for the natural world and investments in conservation and environmental protection have not kept pace. In a world of limited resources for conservation it is imperative that the places featured here – the ‘crown jewels’ of the world’s national parks and protected areas system – are given the priority attention they deserve by the international community. If we can demonstrate an ability to establish world class management of this relatively small portfolio of ‘elite’ places, we will be in a stronger position to ensure that the benefits of protecting natural areas like these can be enjoyed by an ever-increasing part of our human family.
The website is designed to ‘tell the story’ of each place by providing a slideshow of photos that show the landscapes, environment, wildlife, people, threats and conservation needs. This is supported by clear authoritative information, maps, and other resources on each place, including links to other websites. It was launched in June 2017 with a relatively small number of ‘featured sites’ with the intention of covering other places as photographs and other content become available.
This website is a private initiative of British-born conservationist, author and photographer Dr Peter Howard. Peter lives in Nairobi, Kenya and has worked in wildlife conservation since 1980, primarily in Africa. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and member of IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas. Over a period of 35 years he has served in a range of full-time professional positions in Africa with institutions such as KZN Wildlife, WWF, Uganda Forestry Department, Tanzania National Parks, IUCN and the Ghana Wildlife Division. He has also served as Director of the Africa Program of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, with responsibility for projects across the African continent. Since 2006 he has focused on raising awareness of the outstanding importance of world heritage sites in global conservation efforts through his websites and consultancy roles with IUCN and other official agencies. In recent years he has traveled extensively around the world photographing natural world heritage sites and researching content for this website, as well as maintaining his long-standing website covering the natural and cultural world heritage sites in Africa (www.AfricanWorldHeritageSites.org).
Peter’s photographs have provided a solid foundation for the launch of this website, but a global initiative of this kind can only be achieved through partnership and collaboration. Particular thanks are due to Nigel Dudley and Sue Stolton of Equilibrium Research for providing photos for the Galapagos Islands, Aldabra, Te Wahipounamu, Durmitor, the Swedish High Coast, the Laurisilva of Madeira, Pirin, Srebarna, Nahanni, Puerto Princesa, Yakushima and the Primeval Beech Forests of Europe. Ian Francis and Nicky Penfold contributed all the photos for St Kilda, the Danube Delta and Jungfrau-Aletsch, while Steffen Oppel provided the portfolios from Western Tien-Shan, the Gough and Inaccessible Islands (with contributions from Jaimee Cleeland, Kate Lawrence and Michelle Jones) and Gough Island (with Jennifer Lavers, Alice Forrest and Angus Donaldson). Others who have made invaluable contributions include Ryan Deboodt and Oxalis Adventures (Phong Nha), Tom Aveling (Sangha Trinational), Bazarsad Chimed-Ochir (Qinghai Hoh Xil, Central Sikhote-Alin), David Coulson (Tassili n’Ajjer), Mark Davies (Galapagos Islands, Coiba), Mike Griffiths (Sumatra), Lees Groenendijk (Coiba), Alexander Howarth and Jonathan Starnes (Sagarmatha), Omari Ilambu (Salonga), Liana Jansen (Blue and John Crow Mountains), Cesar Juanico (Machu Picchu), Jorge Lara (Sangay), Lyn Mair (Vallee de Mai), Geoffroy Mauvais (Manono-Gounda), Peter Ryley (Cocos Island), David Stanley (Lord Howe Islands), Jerker Tamelander (Aldabra) and Jackie Turner (Pantanal). Specific photo credits appear in the watermark on each photo.
The website is very much ‘a work in progress’ and there’s still a way to go. So, if you can contribute photographs of any natural world heritage site that is not yet featured, please use the form on the Contact Us page. Your contributions will be highly appreciated and are likely to be viewed around the world!