World Heritage

Benefits of natural World Heritage

Photo: IUCN/Nik Lopoulehine

Identifying and assessing ecosystem services and benefits provided by the world's natural wonders

The Benefits of Natural World Heritage is a study identifying and assessing the diversity of ecosystem services, and in turn the benefits that World Heritage sites can deliver to society and the economy.

Its main purpose is to increase awareness and understanding of the full range of direct and indirect benefits that local, national and global communities can receive from natural World Heritage sites. Examples of benefits, in addition to biodiversity conservation, include the prevention of floods, opportunities for tourism, cultural and spiritual values and the provision of food and water.

The project includes a report, published in 2014, as well as an interactive map available on A second phase for the project is currently being developed.

The study has four objectives:

  • To assess specific ecosystem services (standing carbon and water provision) provided by natural World Heritage sites globally using spatial data;
  • To explore the full range of benefits provided by natural World Heritage sites globally and at the site level;
  • To value benefits in monetary terms (where appropriate) through compilation of existing case studies of economic valuation;
  • To examine the different governance models that can favour the delivery of ecosystem services and wider benefits.

The project is carried out by IUCN and UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) with support from the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN).

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