The World Heritage Committee yesterday added, after great deliberation, nine new World Heritage sites to the list of some 1,000 places of “outstanding universal value to humanity.”
The new additions include landscapes such as Khangchendzonga National Park in India, a cultural and natural site home to endangered species such as the snow leopard and musk deer; Canada’s Mistaken Point, known for its unique, diverse and well-preserved fossils; and Iran’s Lut Desert, noted for its remarkable variety of desert landforms.
Here, just a few of the wondrous new additions.
Mistaken Point – Canada
Mistaken Point, located in Newfoundland is home to a rich diversity of fossils from 560-575 million years ago. These fossils were preserved in layers of volcanic ash. At Mistaken Point, some of the oldest deep-water marine fossils can be found.
“These fossils illustrate a watershed in the history of life on earth: the appearance of large, biologically complex organisms, after almost three billion years of micro-dominated evolution,” a release from UNESCO reads.
Hubei Shennongjia is located in Hubei Province, in central-eastern China. The area protects the largest primary forests remaining in Central China and provides habitat for many rare animal species, such as the Chinese Giant Salamander, the Golden or Snub-nosed Monkey, the Clouded Leopard, Common Leopard and the Asian Black Bear. Hubei Shennongjia is one of three centres of biodiversity in China.
“Shennongjia has been a place of significant scientific interest particularly for botanists and the mountains have featured prominently in the history of botanical inquiry,” read a report submitted in support of Shennonjia’s application.
The islands of the Revillagigedo Archipelago are oceanic islands of volcanic origin. The islands are characterised for being surrounded by cliffs, with mountainous areas and interior volcanoes as well as rugged sites, lava fields and soft crests. The islands biota presents a considerable degree of endemism, both on land and in its surrounding waters, particularly concerning birds.
Nicknamed Mexico’s “little Galapágos,” the islands and surrounding waters provide a stopping point for seabirds and critical habitat for a range of wildlife, with an incredible abundance of manta rays, whales, dolphins and sharks.
Gorham’s Cave Complex
This striking network of sea caves on the eastern side of the Rock of Gibraltar is the last known site of Neanderthal survival. This area has been key in understanding the human origin.
Iran’s Lut Desert
Possibly one of the hottest places in the world. The Lut Desert is located in the southeastern part of Iran and is the world’s 25th largest desert. In a major part of this desert, there is no animal and vegetable life of any kind.
Khangchendzonga National Park
The KNP exhibits one of the widest altitudinal ranges of any protected area worldwide. The Park has an extraordinary vertical sweep of over 7 kilometres (1,220m to 8,586m) within an area of only 178,400 hectares and comprises a unique diversity of lowlands, steep-sided valleys and spectacular snow-clad mountains including the world’s third highest peak, Mt. Khangchendzonga.