UNESCO recognizes natural, cultural World Heritage sites
Expanding the list
Published: Jul 27, 2021 07:28 PM
The Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex in Thailand Photos: AFP

The Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex in Thailand Photo: AFP

The Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex in Thailand Photos: AFP

The Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex in Thailand Photo: AFP

Four natural sites and three cultural sites were added to UNESCO's World Heritage List on Monday.

The natural sites are four islands with rich biodiversity in Japan, a coastal area of geodiversity and biodiversity in the Republic of Korea, part of the mountain ridge running down the Malay Peninsula in Thailand and a corridor along the eastern coast of the Black Sea in Georgia.

The three cultural sites are the Dutch Water Defence Lines, the Arslantepe Mound archaeological tell in Turkey and the Colonies of Benevolence in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The World Heritage Committee made the announcement during its 44th session, held online and chaired from Fuzhou, China.

The four islands on a chain in the southwest of Japan, encompassing 42,698 hectares of subtropical rainforests, are entirely uninhabited and have high biodiversity value with a very high percentage of endemic species, many of them globally threatened and some having no living relatives anywhere in the world, the committee said.

The South Korean site, situated in the eastern Yellow Sea, exhibits a complex combination of geological, oceanographic and climatologic conditions that have led to the development of coastal diverse sedimentary systems. It hosts a rich biodiversity, with reports of 2,150 species of flora and fauna, including 22 globally threatened or near-threatened species.

It "demonstrates the link between geodiversity and biodiversity, and the dependence of cultural diversity and human activity on the natural environment," the committee said.

The Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex in Thailand and the Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands in Georgia are also home to rich biodiversity, where a number of endemic and globally endangered species have been reported.

In the cultural sites category, the Arslantepe Mound in Turkey is a 30-meter-tall archaeological tell that testifies to its occupation from at least the 6th millennium BC up until the late Roman period.

"The site illustrates the processes which led to the emergence of a state society in the Near East and a sophisticated bureaucratic system that predates writing," the committee said.

For the Dutch Water Defence Lines, already inscribed in the list in 1996, a new waterline has been added to the famous flood defense systems in the Netherlands.

The Belgian-Dutch transnational serial property encompasses four cultural landscapes with one colony in Belgium and three in the Netherlands. 

"Together they bear witness to a 19th century experiment in social reform, an effort to alleviate urban poverty by establishing agricultural colonies in remote locations," the committee said.

The inscription of sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List is scheduled to continue through Wednesday.