What does World Heritage mean?

what does world heritage mean

We often talk about how Rainforestation is surrounded by World Heritage rainforest … but what does World Heritage mean?

Basically, it means a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as “being of special cultural or physical significance”.

The idea of cultural conservation and nature conservation was initiated by the United States in 1965, in order to “preserve the world’s superb natural and scenic areas and historic sites for the present and the future of the entire world citizenry”.

In 1972, proposals were presented to the United Nations conference on Human Environment, and a single text was agreed on by all parties, and the “Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage” was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO on 16 November 1972.

The Convention came into force on 17 December 1975. As of June 2014, it has been ratified by 191 states, including 187 UN member states plus the Cook Islands, the Holy See,Niue, and the Palestinian territories.

Criteria for World Heritage Listing

There are 10 criterion for a site to be listed as World Heritage, including 4 natural criterion:

  1. “contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance”
  2. “is an outstanding example representing major stages of Earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features”
  3. “is an outstanding example representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems, and communities of plants and animals”
  4. “contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation”

As you can imagine, this means our rainforest is pretty special! For the United Nations to decide that it’s worth protecting … we are very lucky to have it in our backyard!