World Heritage Site
A World Heritage Site is a particular site that has been selected for the International World Heritage Programme, which is organized by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. These sites may be forests, buildings, mountain ranges, lakes, deserts, complexes or even cities.
The Programme of UNESCO has a specific aim : to catalogue and preserve sites of extreme importance for posterity. The sites may have a natural or a cultural connotation. They are preserved as a common heritage for mankind. The World Heritage Programme was adopted by UNESCO at its General Conference on November 16, 1972. It was founded with the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. About 180 countries have now ratified this convention. The heritage sites are entitled to receive funding from the World Heritage Fund on satisfying specific conditions.
According to the 2005 Statistics, 812 sites listed as World Heritage sites of which 682 are cultural, 160 are natural and 24 are mixed properties. Each site is the sole property of the country on whose territory it is located but it is to be preserved for the mutual international interest of mankind. All 180 World Heritage countries are responsible for conserving and protecting these sites.
Till 2004 there were four criteria for natural heritage and six for cultural heritage. This was modified in 2005, and presently, there is one set of ten criteria that must be satisfied. The sites should be of “outstanding international value” and satisfy at least one of the ten criteria to be listed as a World Heritage Site.
- I. “to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius”.
- II. “to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design”.
- III. “to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared”.
- IV. “to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history”.
- V. “to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change”.
- VI. “to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria)”.
- VII. “to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance”.
- VIII. “to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features”.
- IX. “to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals”.
- X. “to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation”.