1098 of 1121 WHS have been reviewed by our community.

Golden Mountains of Altai

Alexander Barabanov Russia - 10-Nov-20

Golden Mountains of Altai

Visited this site in September 2020. Our first priority was a trip to Plateau Putorana with the group tour, but unfortunately the minimum required number of tourists was not met and the tour was cancelled. We therefore arranged in short notice for an individual tour around so called Golden circle of Altay. Altay is one of the most popular tourist regions of Russia and offers significant variety of natural landscapes (mountains, waterfalls, passes, rivers, lakes, geysers, stone formations) and cultural sights (petroglyphs, monasteries, mounds). The main logistic hint about classic route is that it is not looped, and at some point, you need to change car to boat in order to cross Lake Teletskoye (otherwise driving back the same road)

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Auckland Volcanic Fields (T)

Nan Germany - 02-Nov-20

Auckland Volcanic Fields (T)

Auckland is the largest city and main metropolitan area of New Zealand. Indeed, the next bigger city is Sydney in Australia. The town itself is rather modern. The principal features you will notice wandering around are the hills and the sea plus limited Victorian heritage. It's only from a viewpoint such as Mount Eden that you grasp what the town was built on: volcanoes, Mount Eden being one of them.

In total, we stayed for two days in Auckland and visited both Rangitoto Island by ferry and the three volcanoes in Auckland (One Tree Hill, Mount St. John, Mount Eden). The views of the city were nice, but if I had to choose, I would rather go to Rangitoto Island.

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Ponds in the Bay of Oristano and the Sinis Peninsula island of Mal di Ventre (T)

Clyde Malta - 09-Nov-20

Ponds in the Bay of Oristano and the Sinis Peninsula island of Mal di Ventre (T)

I visited the coastal ponds in the Bay of Oristano in March 2017. I drove to different vantage points as close as possible to the scattered salt works and ponds mentioned in the nomination dossier to be able to spot a variety of birds and in terms of birdlife I wasn't disappointed. Some highlights were the Sardinian Warbler and Purple Gallinule, together with the flocks of flamingoes, egrets and spoonbills. 

That said, even though all the ponds mentioned in the nomination dossier are considered to be Ramsar wetlands of international importance, the comparison made with the inscribed Donana NP in Spain or the tentative WHS of Camargue in France is quite far fetched both in terms of size and bird numbers

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Jakob Frenzel Germany - 06-Nov-20


October 2020 - our third night in the camper we spent in Elvas. Just next to the aqueduct there is a parking lot, with a beautiful view at the fortification. The town is small enough to stroll along the bulwark and through the city center. From the top, we could look over to Spain. The main square has a Escher-like pavement and is really one of the highlites. Some cafes offered food on the main market, so thats where we had dinner. Another walk in the evening revealed how poor the city is. The flats some streets away from the market are tiny, in bad shape, dogs are lingering on the streets, and it does not quite feel like this town is profiting from WHS status. However, the night at the aqueduct was nice, especially the next morning with fog hanging on that marvelous building

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Isole Eolie

Nan Germany - 29-Oct-20

Isole Eolie

Following in the footsteps of the previous reviewers, I visited Vulcano as a day trip from Milazzo. It's the southernmost island and fastest to reach from Sicily by virtue of being closest to the coast. Luckily, it's also very representative example for the islands. It has a large, somewhat active volcano that is well within reach for persons with normal fitness levels. From the top of the volcano you get great views of the island itself as well as the whole island chain. Timewise, it's well within the time window awarded by the return ferry.

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Blog TWHS Visits

Unreviewed TWHS: Hirkan Forests

During the past week Azerbaijan has replaced its TWHS “Hyrcanian State Reserve”, dating from 1998, with “Hirkan Forests”. This revision follows the change in the national park structure that happened in 2004 and a further enlargement of the protected area in 2008. Though it may seem like a minor administrative adjustment, a change like this usually indicates an upcoming official nomination of the site. In this case it would be an extension to the Iranian Hyrcanian Forests WHS from 2019. The new Azeri TWHS is known for its ancient, deciduous mixed broad-leaved forests - in normal language that means: trees that shed their flat, usually veined, leaves. It comprises 3 locations.

A similar, but smaller site was nominated for inclusion in the WH List already in 2006 as “Hirkan Forests of Azerbaijan”. It was Deferred at the time with the option to renominate it as part of a transnational serial property with other Hirkanian forest areas in Iran.

When I re-read that IUCN evaluation now, I see no strong argument to either include or reject it. The forests are said to be of equal importance to sites known for vascular plant diversity already on the List, such as the Great Smoky Mountains. The Azeri site’s size is small, but there might be OUV if linked to Hirkanian forest sites in Iran. (I do not really understand this point as all components of a serial site should show OUV individually, so this alone should not have been a reason for Deferral). The removal of illegal settlements from the area however may have been a precondition.

I “visited” one of the 3 locations of the revamped TWHS on my way from Azerbaijan to Iran in 2016. I was well aware that I would quickly pass it by bus and sat ready with my camera in front of the windows. This explains the blurriness of photo 1 and 2 accompanying this post. To me it was a forest like any other, but I decided that I earned my future ‘tick’ when I noticed a park entrance gate marked Hirkan Milli Parki (photo 2). The road to Ardabil (in Iran) straddles the border and the Hirkan National Park. I am unsure about the proposed site’s exact borders, but will count it anyway as it is unlikely that I will ever visit Azerbaijan or this region again.

According to its new TWHS description, the area includes “living fossils” among its tree species such as the Persian Ironwood, Caucasian Wingnut and Caucasian Elm. The text even includes a cliffhanger: "...further endemic, rare, and threatened species ... will be detailed in the nomination dosser". 

These Azeri forests are not contiguous with Lisar, currently the most western part of the 15 locations of the Iranian Hyrcan Forests WHS. And to add to the confusing storyline - last week Iran has launched a new TWHS to add 2 more locations which are in a wholly different area. All together, this serial transnational Hyrcanian Forests (T)WHS seems to imitate the pointless extension upon extension of the Ancient Beech Forests of Europe. If you have allowed one location in, locations of similar value (and there are many in these cases) will get into the List also. Even the Colchis Wetlands and Forests of Georgia (up for the WHC of 2020/2021) is related. All these "survived the ice age periods as extremely rare “Tertiary relict forests”".

Els - 22 November 2020

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