A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a specific site or place – forest, mountain range, lake, desert, building, complex, or city – that is of ‘outstanding international value’ and people want to protect it for everyone to enjoy.
The symbol (above) has two parts – the central square symbolizes human skill and inspiration, the circle celebrates the gifts of nature. The emblem is round, like the world, a symbol of global protection for the heritage of all humankind. Some countries such China, United States and the United Kingdom, have many sites, and some countries like Burma/Myanmar have none.
The list has both cultural (about people and their way of life) and natural (plants and animals, geology) sites, some ‘mixed’ cultural/natural. There are also ‘intangible’ which means cultural ideas such as ‘songs’. Whereas cultural site may have historic relics – very special objects found nowhere else. Natural sites may protect critically endangered species.
The cost of maintaining a world heritage site can be expensive, so entrance fees might need to charged. Also, many more people visit a world heritage site – not just a local attraction. This means the authorities need to have strategies to protect it from abuse including litter and vandalism. In the Middle East and western Africa, war can threaten or even destroy relics or whole sites.
Questions for Discussions & Debates:
If there are too many sites, does this ‘water down’ the existing sites?
Should all World Heritage sites be free, so everyone can enjoy them?
World Heritage | protection | maintenance | overuse | litter | vandalism | Middle East | western Africa | threaten | Map | relics | critically endangered | species
World Heritage Centre http://whc.unesco.org/
World heritage blog http://www.worldheritagesite.org/
- Spanish national park could lose Unesco status over illegal boreholes (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Heritage status a ticket to despoil, exploit, profit (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Syria’s Six World Heritage sites placed on List of World Heritage in Danger (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- WORLD HERITAGE : Japan’s Mount Fuji wins Unesco status! (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Logging Threatens World Heritage Site (solomontimes.com)
- WORLD HERITAGE : UNESCO declares China’s Hani Rice Terraces! (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Mount Fuji and 18 other locations protected as UNESCO World Heritage sites (mnn.com)