UNESCO's 41st session of the World Heritage Committee took place in Kraków, Poland from 2 to 12 July 2017. Four natural wonders that have been inscribed on the World Heritage list in 2017 followed advice of the IUCN’s advisory body on nature to the World Heritage Committee. Two new inscriptions, of which one is an extension of the existing World Heritage site, are situated in the IUCN Eastern Europe, North and Central Asia region:
Landscapes of Dauria, stretching across Mongolia and Russia, are a resting place for 3 million migratory birds within the East Asia-Australasian flyway, including 16 globally endangered bird species. The site supports one of the last truly mass ungulate migrations in Central Asia, that of the Mongolian Gazelle (locally called dzeren).
Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe has been expanded to 9 countries in Europe (Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Romania, Slovenia, Spain), inscribing 63 areas of beech forests as an extension to an existing World Heritage site in Germany, Slovakia and Ukraine. IUCN pointed out that not all nomination components met the standards for a World Heritage inscription, and a series of improvements are now needed to ensure its full compliance with the World Heritage Convention’s requirements. In Albania two areas have become components of the extended property: Lumi i Gashit Strict Nature Reserve (IUCN Category Ia), located within the Valbona Valley National Park and the Rrajca area within Shebenik-Jablanica National Park.
Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme and head of the IUCN delegation at the Committee, shares IUCN’s key takeaways from the 2017 World Heritage Committee meeting.