How do we replace the irreplaceable? Is such a thing even possible?
Rather than wait to find out, the World Heritage Centre — part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO — has decided to proactively protect cultural and natural sites around the world before they’re lost.
With locations in nearly every corner of the globe, from the Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan to the Matobo Hills in Zimbabwe, the World Heritage Centre’s World Heritage List includes 981 places. Once on the list, the designation draws international attention to ongoing threats such as development, armed conflict, pollution and poaching, and the World Heritage Committee is often able to work directly with governments on preservation and protection measures. Inclusion on the list has been used to protect the Pacific gray whale in El Vizcaino Bay, Mexico and rhino inside Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal, among other successes.
According to the World Heritage Centre’s website, in order to be included on the list, “sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria,” such as containing “superlative natural phenomena” or “the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity.”