June 26, 2009

UNESCO Names New World Heritage Sites

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Friday inducted the Wadden Sea and Italy's Dolomites to its World Heritage List of protected regions.

Additionally, the committee named the Philippines' Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park as an extension to the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park added to the World Heritage List in 1993.

The appointments were made due to recommendations from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

UNESCO made the announcement on the fifth day of an ongoing series of meetings of its 21-member World Heritage Committee in Seville, Spain. The meetings are expected to continue through the end of June.

The Wadden Sea is made up of the Dutch Wadden Sea Conservation Area and the German Wadden Sea National Parks of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein.

The location is a coastal wetland environment that "represents over 66 percent of the whole Wadden Sea and is home to numerous plant and animal species, including marine mammals such as the harbor seal, grey seal and harbor porpoise," UNESCO said in a statement.

"It is one of the most important areas for migratory birds, with up to 6.1 million birds present at any one time, more than 400,000 breeding pairs and an average of 10-12 million birds which pass through every year," said the IUCN.

The Dolomite site is made up of a mountain range of 19 peaks in the northern Italian Alps.

"It is characterized by dynamic processes with frequent landslides, floods and avalanches," said UNESCO.

"The property also features one of the best examples of the preservation of Mesozoic carbonate platform systems, with fossil records."

The Tubbataha extension translates into a threefold increase in the size of the original property, according to the committee.

"It's in a unique position in the middle of the Sulu Sea and is the perfect site to study the response of a natural reef system to the impacts of climate change," said Josephine Langley, the IUCN's World Heritage Monitoring Officer.

Also on Friday, the committee named Cidade Velha as the first World Heritage site in Cape Verde.

China's Buddhist Mount Wutai has also been inscribed to the list as a cultural landscape.


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