New nature-culture sites on the World Heritage List

Natural areas linked to indigenous cultures are among new World Heritage sites added in 2018 following IUCN's advice.

The World Heritage List now counts three new "mixed" sites inscribed for their outstanding natural and cultural values. Just 38 World Heritage sites are classified as mixed - out of a total of 1092. The inscriptions were approved at UNESCO's 42nd World Heritage Committee meeting, following the advice of IUCN which evaluated the sites' natural values.

The new mixed sites include two vast indigenous peoples’ territories, which are now among the largest World Heritage sites on the planet, and one site whose rich biodiversity supports local communities. Three other inscriptions and one extension were also approved, bringing the total of natural and mixed World Heritage sites to 247.

Pimachiowin Aki includes the ancestral lands of four Anishinaabe First Nations, and covers more than 2.9 million hectares of the Canadian Boreal Shield.

Take a virtual soundtrip to Pimachiowin Aki, courtesy of the Boreal Songbird Initiative .

For thousands of years, it has been the custodian territory of indigenous peoples, whose culture, livelihoods, identity and belief systems are interconnected with the natural landscape.

Photos: © IUCN / Bastian Bertzky Photos: © IUCN / Bastian Bertzky

Photos: © IUCN / Bastian Bertzky

Photos: © IUCN / Bastian Bertzky

Pimachiowin Aki’s incredible size, intactness and ecosystem diversity support iconic boreal species such as the Vulnerable woodland caribou (pictured here), as well as the moose, the wolf, the leopard frog and the Canada warbler.

The remarkable leadership shown by indigenous peoples in seeking to protect their ancestral lands through the World Heritage Convention is a landmark case, according to IUCN.

>> Discover more photos of Pimachiowin Aki

Chiribiquete National Park -
“The Maloca of the Jaguar”


Chiribiquete National Park – “The Maloca of the Jaguar” is Colombia’s largest national park spanning close to 2.8 million hectares. It hosts biodiversity from four converging ecoregions: Amazonia, Guyana, North Andes and Orinoquia.

Indigenous tribes are known to live inside the park, voluntarily isolated and uncontacted. Around the park, an estimated 3,485 people live in 22 indigenous territories.

Photos: © IUCN / Charles Besancon Photos: © IUCN / Charles Besancon

Photos: © IUCN / Charles Besancon

Photos: © IUCN / Charles Besancon

Indigenous communities consider Chiribiquete to be an ancestral long house (or "maloca") for jaguars.

The park is also considered one of the most irreplaceable protected areas in the world for the conservation of mammals, birds and amphibians. It hosts iconic species such as the puma, the pink dolphin, and the Vulnerable lowland tapir.

>> Discover more photos of Chiribiquete National Park

Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley:
originary habitat of Mesoamerica


Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley boasts a remarkable level of biodiversity in an arid and semiarid environment, with 70% of the world’s floral families growing there and one of the highest levels of animal diversity for a dryland.

It hosts exceptionally diverse and dense populations of cacti, which are highly threatened worldwide, as well as other plants such as agaves, yuccas and oaks.

Photos: © IUCN / Thora Amend

Photos: © IUCN / Thora Amend

Some 1,000 species found in this region are used traditionally by local people.

The management of this new World Heritage site seeks to engage local communities in fostering responsible tourism.

>> Discover more photos of Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley: originary habitat of Mesoamerica

Chaîne des Puys - Limagne fault tectonic arena, France

This new site in France's Auvergne region was also added to the World Heritage List following IUCN's advice. Its exceptional geological values illustrate processes and features of continental break-up – a fundamental phenomenon in the Earth’s history.

>> Discover more photos of Chaîne des Puys - Limagne fault tectonic arena

Photo: © IUCN / Josephine Langley

Photo: © IUCN / Josephine Langley

New natural sites in China and South Africa, and one extension in Russia

Proposals to inscribe two more natural World Heritage sites and extend an existing site were also approved by the World Heritage Committee, although IUCN’s evaluations had pointed to additional work being needed to secure their conservation to World Heritage standards.

Fanjingshan, China

China’s Fanjingshan is considered one of the best preserved subtropical ecosystems in the country, home to rare species such as the Guizhou snub-nosed monkey and to an impressive 13% of China’s total flora.

Photos: © IUCN / Remco van Merm

Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains, South Africa

South Africa’s Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains is a remarkable window into what primitive Earth looked like at a time when continents were starting to form and the newly formed moon was less than half as far away from our planet as it is today.

Photos: © IUCN / Guy Narbonne

Bikin River Valley, Russian Federation

Russia’s Bikin River Valley – an extended World Heritage area, added to the previously listed Central Sikhote-Alin – is considered one of the last shelters of the Amur Tiger and provides livelihoods for some 1,000 indigenous people living in the vicinity.

Photos: © IUCN / Tilman Jaeger

IUCN is the official advisory body on nature to the World Heritage Committee. It is responsible for evaluating all candidate sites proposed for inscription on the World Heritage List for their natural values. It also recommends necessary action to support listed natural sites facing threats.

Natural World Heritage sites are globally recognised as the world’s most significant protected areas and include iconic places such as the Galápagos Islands, Yellowstone and Kilimanjaro.