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November 9, 2015. Earth / Earth’s Legacy

What Are World Heritage Sites?

World Heritage Sites include the most spectacular landscapes and territories on our planet. They are places with such an extraordinary beauty and such splendid features that make us react immediately and viscerally.

Cyril F. Kormos, Russell A. Mittermeier, Tim Badman, Bastian Bertzky, Remco Van Merm, Letícia Leitão, Guy Debonnet, Nora Mitchell, Elena Osipova, y Ernesto Enkerlin.

Special, vibrant and energetic, World Heritage Sites are places where Nature’s mystery and splendor have the power to make us feel deeply connected to our planet.

These sites tell the unfathomable story about geological evolution, the astonishing diversity of life on Earth, and our origins as human beings. In fact, it comes at no surprise that World Heritage Sites be often places with extraordinary natural values that are closely linked to a profound cultural and spiritual meaning; places where culture and nature are strongly connected – as they have been for millennia. They are transcendental places that lead the way to a new understanding of our planet and ourselves.

Therefore, not only are they important for a person, country, or region but for humanity as a whole.

Based on the Outstanding Universal Value, a site’s value is determined according to the list of cultural and natural attributes defined in the Operational Guidelines. These criteria state that in order for a place to be considered a World Heritage Site, it must be exceptional in terms of beauty, geological heritage, ecological processes, biodiversity, or any combination of the above. There are only a number of natural sites in the world that can meet these requirements. Although there are still many relevant sites to be added to the World Heritage List, and despite the fact that scientific advances may reveal new priorities for site registration, the List is limited, so at some point in the coming decades, it will be essentially closed. 

Part of the CEMEX Nature Books Series focuses on World Heritage Sites and some “mixed sites” – those with exceptional cultural and natural values. These places raise awareness on the fact that they must be preserved and that, as citizens of the world, it is our obligation to protect them, both for ourselves and for future generations.

This is an excerpt from the CEMEX Nature Series Book Earth’s Legacy: Natural World Heritage (2015).

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Earth’s Legacy

Natural World Heritage

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