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    World Heritage

    Natural World Heritage sites include iconic places such as the Great Barrier Reef, Yellowstone, the Galápagos Islands and Kilimanjaro, and are recognised as the world's most significant protected areas.


    Protecting the planet’s most iconic natural places


    We advise

    ~ 60

    natural sites are monitored by IUCN each year for the World Heritage Committee; 252 are now listed

    We assess

    64 %

    of all sites listed up to 2017 are assessed by IUCN as having a positive conservation outlook

    We provide knowledge

    + 77 %

    increase in sites threatened by climate change in 2017 (62 sites), compared to 2014 (35 sites)

    How we engage

    Natural World Heritage sites are recognised as the planet’s most important protected areas, providing life-supporting benefits to millions of people worldwide. And yet, they are under increasing pressure from climate change, infrastructure development, mining, poaching and other threats.

    IUCN is the official advisory body on nature under the World Heritage Convention. IUCN evaluates sites nominated for the World Heritage List and monitors the state of conservation of listed sites. IUCN aims to improve the management of World Heritage sites and enhance the role of the World Heritage Convention in nature conservation and sustainable development.


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    • IUCN World Heritage Outlook 3 webinar Photo: Photo: Frans Lanting/National Geographic Creative

      Webinar: IUCN World Heritage Outlook 3


      Join us on Tuesday 8 December for this online live event presenting fresh results from the IUCN World Heritage Outlook 3. Two sessions will be held to cater for different time zones.

    • Invasive Rat World Heritage Norway Rat in the French Austral Lands and Seas, a World Heritage site in the subantarctic region Photo: IUCN / Wendy Strahm

      Invasive alien species may be a bigger threat to natural World Heritage than previously thought


      A new paper indicates that impacts on natural World Heritage sites from invasive alien species, such as house mice, Argentine ants and rainbow trout, may be greater than previously assessed. It presents results of a proposed framework tested in seven affected...

    • Francisco Javier Valverde Esparza; vaquita Francisco Javier Valverde Esparza, known as Paco Photo: Lorenzo Rojas Bracho

      An ocean hero dedicated to vaquita conservation succumbs to COVID-19


      IUCN is deeply saddened by the loss of Mexican conservationist Paco Valverde, who dedicated his life to protect the vaquita – the world’s smallest porpoise and most threatened marine mammal. Paco was regarded as an ocean hero who inspired his community to...


    Learn more

    East Rennell, Solomon Islands Photo: IUCN/Paul Dingwall

    Global World Heritage projects

    IUCN implements initiatives to enhance the role of World Heritage


    IUCN World Heritage Outlook Photo: Our Place World Heritage

    IUCN World Heritage Outlook

    Blue and John Crow Mountains, Jamaica Photo: IUCN/Melissa Marín

    Advisor on World Heritage

    IUCN provides technical advice to help the World Heritage Committee make informed decisions on natural heritage


    Monarch Butterfly Reserve, Mexico Photo: IUCN/Wendy Strahm

    World Heritage and Climate Change

    Climate change is the biggest potential threat to natural World Heritage sites, but these sites can be part of the solution


    Quick reads

    Aimed at policy-makers and journalists, IUCN Issues Briefs provide key information on selected issues in a two-pager format.

    thumbnail_natural World Heritage_issues brief Photo: IUCN

    Natural World Heritage

    One in five (23%) sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List are natural sites, most often protected areas such as national parks or nature reserves. Natural World Heritage sites are globally recognised...
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