Today, Sunday 1st July 2012, the meeting of the World Heritage Committee has named 8 new World Heritage sites, 4 of them for their outstanding value for nature and wildlife. Two sites were named in Asia and another two in Africa.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided that the following nature sites were worthy of the highest level of international protection.
1. Western Ghats (India).
The mountain chain contains a unique range of biodiversity and the mountains themselves are of significant importance. They are older than the Himalayas mountain range and have developed their own unique biophysical and ecological processes.
The high forest of the mountains plays an important role in the monsoon season of India and helps to moderate the tropical climate of the area.
It is home to hundreds of unique and endemic species and are home to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species.
2. Chengjiang Fossil Site (China).
The Chengjiang fossils offer the chance to study the most complete fossil record of marine wildlife from the early Cambrian period. The 512 hectare site in Yunnan province has revealed a wide diversity of fossils of both soft and hard bodied marine organisms.
The fossils found here record the early establishment of a complex marine ecosystem. The site has revealed at least 16 phyla and a variety of enigmatic groups as well as about 196 species, presenting an exceptional record to the rapid diversification of life on Earth 530 million years ago, when almost all of today’s major animal groups emerged. It opens a palaeobiological window of great significance to scholarship.
3. Sangha Trinational (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo,).
Found in the north-west Congo basin this site incorporates national parks from the three countries of Cameroon, Central African Republic and Congo. The three parks in the World Heritage Site cover a total of 750,000 acres.
It’s remoteness and harsh conditions means that the area is still unscathed by human activities. It is home to tropical forest flora and fauna including,
- Nile Crocodiles,
- Goliath Tigerfish,
- forest elephants,
- Western Lowland Gorilla,
4. Lakes of Ounianga (Chad).
This site is made up of a series of interconnecting lakes. The 18 lakes are found in the Ennedi region of the Sahara Desert and cover an area of over 68,000 hectares.
The saline, hyper saline and freshwater lakes are fed by groundwater rather than rainfall. The lakes are located in two groups 40 kilometres apart.
Ounianga Kebir is made up of 4 lakes. The largest , Yoan, covers an area of 358 hectares and is 27 metres deep. Its highly saline waters only sustain algae and some microorganisms.
The second group, Ounianga Serir, is made up of 14 lakes separated by sand dunes. Floating reeds cover almost half the surface of these lakes reducing evaporation. At 436 hectares, Lake Teli has the largest surface area but is less than ten metres deep. With their high quality freshwater, some of these lakes are home to aquatic fauna, particularly fish.