World Heritage List gets bigger
rounds up key decisions from last week's conference on UNESCO's wonders of the world.
The World Heritage List has grown by 21 sites as of today, as the 31st annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee comes to a close in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The World Heritage programme, which aims "to conserve sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of mankind", now lists 851 'wonders of the world', including forests, deserts, mountains, lakes, buildings and even entire cities. Added to such traditional favourites as the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, Stonehenge and the Grand Canyon National Park, are now the Atsinanana rainforests of Madagascar plus a handful more (see slideshow). There were 36 nominations of additions to the list this year — so about two-thirds made the cut.
The programme, run by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is also responsible for reviewing the conservation status of sites on the list. After this year's assessments, the committee now declares 29 of the listed sites as 'in danger', thanks to threats of climate change or human encroachment, and requiring further protection.
Under certain conditions, World Heritage sites can obtain money for protection from the World Heritage Fund, although the annual budget is small at around US$4 million.
Here News@nature.com rounds up the committee's key decisions for 2007.