Two new natural sites with coral reefs were inscribed on the World Heritage List

Two new natural sites with coral reefs were inscribed on the World Heritage List at the 34th session of the World Heritage Committee meeting (held in Brasilia). Meeting under the Chairmanship of the Minister of Culture of Brazil, João Luiz da Silva Ferreira, the Committee inscribed 21 new sites, including 15 cultural, 5 natural and 1 mixed properties. Three countries, Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tajikistan, had sites added for the first time. One existing natural site was also recognized for its cultural values and thus becomes a mixed site. The World Heritage Committee also added four sites to the List of World Heritage in Danger and removed the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) from this List.

Criteria: (vii)(ix)

The Phoenix Island Protected Area (PIPA) is a 408,250 sq.km expanse of marine and terrestrial habitats in the Southern Pacific Ocean. The property encompasses the Phoenix Island Group, one of three island groups in Kiribati, and is the largest designated Marine Protected Area in the world. PIPA conserves one of the world's largest intact oceanic coral archipelago ecosystems, together with 14 known underwater sea mounts (presumed to be extinct volcanoes) and other deep-sea habitats. The area contains approximately 800 known species of fauna, including about 200 coral species, 500 fish species, 18 marine mammals and 44 bird species. The structure and functioning of PIPA's ecosystems illustrates its pristine nature and importance as a migration route and reservoir. This is the first site in Kiribati to be inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Criteria: (iii)(vi)(viii)(ix)(x)

Papahānaumokuākea is a vast and isolated linear cluster of small, low lying islands and atolls, with their surrounding ocean, roughly 250 km to the northwest of the main Hawaiian Archipelago and extending over some 1931 km. The area has deep cosmological and traditional significance for living Native Hawaiian culture, as an ancestral environment, as an embodiment of the Hawaiian concept of kinship between people and the natural world, and as the place where it is believed that life originates and to where the spirits return after death. On two of the islands, Nihoa and Makumanamana, there are archaeological remains relating to pre-European settlement and use. Much of the monument is made up of pelagic and deepwater habitats, with notable features such as seamounts and submerged banks, extensive coral reefs and lagoons. It is one of the largest marine protected areas (MPAs) in the world.

For more information, visit: http://whc.unesco.org/en/newproperties/