Blog WHS Visits

WHS #903: Mount Wuyi

The WHS of Mount Wuyi has not been covered well by reviews yet - at least I think they do not do justice to the complexity of this mixed WHS. After reading beforehand about what to see and do in the area I decided to spend more than one day here and explore various parts.

On my arrival day, I moved straight to the second location called “Ruin of Han Dynasty City”. This lies some 15km outside of the Wuyi scenic area. From Nanpingshi railway station (formerly known as Wuyishan East) I took the recently installed tramway and got off at Chengcun, from where it’s a 3km walk to the ruins (it’s signposted and you can use the bike path). It’s a location of interest in the inscription history of this WHS, as ICOMOS in 1999 actually considered it a separate site and thought it would be better to split this cultural archeological site from the more nature-focused main site.

The split didn’t happen though and now the Han City Ruins are part of the Wuyi WHS, and they proudly display the WH logo everywhere. Strangely, access regulations are different between the two locations – while the main site requires quite costly one or multiple-day passes, the entrance here is free. The ruins lie in a sleepy village and at the sites (I went to the museum and the palace ruins) no one else was around except for one person at each reception. The museum is quite a grand building and was modelled after Beijing’s Imperial Palace. The Han City dates from the 1st century BC and testifies to the time when the region became incorporated into the Han state and the local ruler became a vassal to the Han Emperor. These city ruins are considered unique for China as later constructions have never overlaid them. What remains though are hardly more than the foundations of what once was a walled city. Photo 1 above shows the ‘Bath Pool’.

The next morning I was up early and managed to be among the first to enter Wuyishan NP. The park opens already at 6.30 in the main season. For some reason, I only had to pay for the shuttle buses (70 Yuan (9 EUR), which even became 65 after an inexplicable Alipay discount) and not for the entrance (which is listed as 140 Yuan for 1 day). I had read online that they had given free entrance until April, but maybe they continue this practice.

I had chosen to visit the Da Hong Pao area first – it turned out that I was the only one wanting to go there at this early hour and I sat alone at the bus. That was fine by me as it resulted in a very pleasant and quiet hike. This area in the northern part of the park is known for its growing of tea plants. The so-called Tea Trail, 4.5km long, connects Da Hong Pao with the Water Curtain Cave via a narrow path through valleys and up and down stone stairs. The area was used as an Imperial Tea Farm and still produces a specific red kind of tea. A key spot is its remaining set of 6 original tea trees that are over 300 years old.

Along the way, you will also pass a fine 18th-century temple and ancient cliff dwellings high up against the cliff wall. As it was so quiet, I saw several birds such as a red-headed trogon and the very pretty Silver Pheasant (which is mostly white). The trail ends at the Water Curtain Cave, which is a steep waterfall that in this dry season only trickles from the top. Maybe it's not really worth the steep climb to get there, but there’s a Neo-Confucian shrine (infested with bees) at the bottom end of the wall so you can ‘tick’ the Neo-Confucian part of the OUV as well!

After 2 hours of hiking, I took a shuttle bus back to the main area near the park's South Entrance. Here I did another short walk: to Zhi Zhi An nunnery. This easy path starts at Wuyi Palace and follows the bending river. There’s a good viewpoint from where you can take pictures of the bamboo rafts floating downstream against the backdrop of the cliff walls.

Els - 19 May 2024

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Durian 20 May 2024

As Da Hong Pao tea drinker, I really want to see the original Da Hong Pao tea trees at Mt. Wuyi.


Blog Connections

Strict Nature Reserves

While preparing for my upcoming trip to Kazakhstan I found out that both parks that together form the Saryarka WHS are ‘Strict Nature Reserves’. We already have a connection for that (of course), and I took the opportunity to refresh it. I had always thought that these Strict Reserves wouldn't allow for tourist visits (we had that in our connection description as well: "a zone with the highest wilderness protection and not open to tourism"), but it turns out that the story is different.

What is meant by “Strict”?

IUCN over the years has developed a system to categorize protected areas – the most recent incarnation dates from 1994. It is meant to provide international standards and is used locally to provide a basis for legislation. This system ranks from high to lower levels of protection, represented by categories I to VI with I being the highest. See this source for how it works, the quotes below were taken from this document.

The Strict Nature Reserve is category Ia. Here, “human visitation, use and impacts are strictly controlled and limited to ensure protection of the conservation values”. The reserves protect natural features “that will not survive outside of such strictly protected settings” and can be studied in near-pristine circumstances. They are “managed for relatively low visitation by humans”.

There’s also a category Ib, “Wilderness Area”, which also doesn’t survive on tourism revenue. They are larger and less strictly protected from human visitation than category Ia. I think we can have a separate connection for them too. I’ve found a few WHS already: Shirakami-Sanchi, Barrington Tops National Park (Gondwana Rainforests), Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park & Wrangell–Saint Elias Wilderness, and some of the Cold Winter Deserts of Turan.

Updates

I verified our connected sites by checking their IUCN category status (mostly via the UNEP-WCMC website). We lost Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng there. Also, Białowieża Forest doesn't seem to be one (according to this statistic, Poland has no Ia sites) although it includes an area named "Special Reserve". I also removed the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries as the status of the part that could be (Wolong Natural Nature Reserve) is unsure.

I added the following new sites that I got from doing a query on the UNESCO website and drawing inspiration from the No Road Access and Not open to tourists connections:

Ones that did not meet the cut where I perhaps expected it: Shirakami-Sanchi (it's Ib), Central Amazon and Lorentz NP (both reclassified to category II, a National Park), and Chiribiquete ('only' a National Park as well - its strict access rules may be more safety-based than conservation-based). The latter 3 are too vast - a common denominator among Ia sites is that they are fairly small.

A mixed bunch

The resulting list of 20 connected WHS is a mixed bunch. My main conclusion is that very few WHS are made up of a Strict Nature Reserve only. In most cases, and especially with serial sites, there are both strict and less strict parts.

Fully covered are:

Consequences for accessibility

So in most cases you can just visit another location to avoid the conditions of the Strict area. And even among those that a Strict Reserve fully covers, none of the WHS is inaccessible to the general public. There are few restrictions at Yakushima (Photo 1) and Saryarka. Others may be expensive (Aldabra, Gough, Heard and McDonald), dependent on good weather conditions for landing, or you need a (hiking or climbing) permit - but you can get there in the end. Even entering the core zone of the Indian Sundarbans seems a possibility nowadays - at "Nethi Dhupani island located in the Western range of the National Park where regulated tourism (13 boats per day) is permitted" (IUCN Outlook 2020) and you can loop around Surtsey (in its marine part) by boat.

If you know of additional Ia or Ib category sites, or special requirements for getting into them, please let us know

Els - 12 May 2024

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Els Slots 12 May 2024

I register them in the same connection with the note "Partly", Carlo. Thanks for the research!


Carlo Sarion 12 May 2024

You may add Hubei Shennongjia and Archipiélago de Revillagigedo too:

http://world-heritage-datasheets.unep-wcmc.org/datasheet/output/site/hubei-shennongjia/
http://world-heritage-datasheets.unep-wcmc.org/datasheet/output/site/archipielago-de-revillagigedo/

My partner went on a diving trip in Socorro in Revillagigedo and yes, it's pretty much highly restricted.

The following sites on the other hand have components whose IUCN designation is either 1a or 1b. I don't know how you would consider this under the Strict Nature Reserve connection though.

1. Xianjiang Tianshan - 1b Tomur Peak National Nature Reserve, West Tianshan Mountains National Nature Reserve, and Bayinbuluke National Nature Reserve
2. Western Tien-Shan - 1a for Aksu-Jabagly State Nature Reserve and Besh-Aral State Nature Reserve
3. Western Caucases - 1a for Kavkazskiy State Biosphere Reserve
4. Virgin Komi Forest - 1a for Pechoro-Ilychsky Reserve
5. Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve - 1a for Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve (not the national park)
6. Shiretoko - 1a for Onnebutsedake Wilderness Area
7. Laponian Area - 1a for Sjaunja Nature Reserve
8. Kluane / Wrangell-St Elias / Glacier Bay /tatshenshini-Alsek - 1b for Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park
9. Central Sikhote-Alin - 1a for Sikhote-Alinskiy Nature Preserve (Zapovednik)
10. Banc d'Arguin National Park - 1a for Cap Blanc Integral Reserve


Els Slots 12 May 2024

I also found Putorana and Wrangel Island to be Ia (from the less than 1,000 visitors a year connection).


Els Slots 12 May 2024

You're totally right Carlo. I should have known about the Subantarctic Islands. Their 'Australian brother' Macquarie island is Ia as well. Will add them.


Carlo Sarion 12 May 2024

I just reviewed a couple of sites inscribed under natural criteria so this topic just looks so timely! This is interesting, countries have their own categories of conservation and resource use and do not necessarily adopt the IUCN protected area management classification system. The IUCN system does not also automatically fit for marine protected areas (MPAs) because of the nuanced issues in the marine environment, though I learned somewhere that they are actually applicable and helpful in creating legislative and operational settings in the establishment of MPAs (need to find that document somewhere). Anyway, in the case of nature reserves that form the NZ Sub-Antarctic Islands, I believe they are categorised under 1a:

http://world-heritage-datasheets.unep-wcmc.org/datasheet/output/site/new-zealand-sub-antarctic-islands


Blog WHS website

Predicting new nominations

We are awaiting the publication of the documents for the 2024 WHC session, which will become available online in about a month or so. These documents will not only give us the AB advisories for the 2024 nominations but also bring the full list of nominations for 2025 to the table. “Predicting” these possible new WHS has been a significant community effort of this website for years; it makes it possible to plan your travels by taking in the Upcoming Nominations.

So how good are we at predicting? Nominations aren't always as clearly announced as by this Chinese news outlet:

A bit of History

In 2009 we started from a document someone had found floating around on the web, and the years 2010 and 2011 saw similar patterns. For the WHC of 2012, a forum topic was started in late 2010: this was the first time a set of candidates was identified based on media sources before the official UNESCO document set was published.

Kyle/winterkjm now yearly makes neat lists based on crawling the web in various languages. His overviews and the forum topics invite others to amend these lists with sites they discovered themselves based on items in the news.

The results

I checked the entries for all years between 2012 and 2024 to measure how effective we are with our predictions. I took the final full listing of the predictions for each year on the Forum and compared this with the actual nominated list on the agenda of the WHC. After adding the numbers, I calculated the following two indicators:

  1. Accuracy rate: the percentage of predicted sites that indeed did deliver a nomination on time and were deemed ‘complete’. This shows whether the sites we picked were right.
  2. Completeness rate: the percentage of predicted sites measured against the actual total of new nominations. This shows the sites we overlooked in our discussions.

Have a look at the findings in this table:

I had to skip the years 2021 and 2023 as they were obscured by the double WHCs in these years. You can also see from 2020 and 2022 we could not get a clear view in those years.

So, overall, in our best years, we guessed about 70% of the nominations correctly. This creeps up to 80% if we don't consider the incomplete dossiers.

2024 as an example

When we look at the year 2024 as an example, we did not see these 8 coming:

  • Burkina Faso: La Cour royale de Tiébélé (never named before except during the Missing WHS discussion)
  • Ethiopia: Melka Kunture and Balchit (we noticed it as ‘waitlisted’ in 2021 as Ethiopia had submitted 2 dossiers that year; however we did not follow up after 2022)
  • Romania: Brâncusi Monumental Ensemble of Târgu Jiu (been on the radar since identified as one of the sites of memory in 2019, but not followed up after 2022)
  • Saudi Arabia: The Cultural Landscape of Al-Faw Archaeological Area (never brought forward)
  • Serbia: Bac Cultural Landscape (never brought forward either)
  • South Africa: The Pleistocene Occupation Sites (we saw it in 2016-2017)
  • Russia: Testament of Kenozero Lake (only slightly mentioned during Missing WHS discussion)
  • Bosnia Herzegovina: Vjetrenica Cave (we mentioned it for 2023 only, as it had an incomplete dossier in 2022)

We also lost 5 due to submitting incomplete dossiers: Murujuga Cultural Landscape (Australia), Mount Olympus (Greece), Modernist Centre of Gdynia (Poland), Cultural Landscape of the Andalusian Olive Grove (Spain) and Sunken City of Port Royal (Jamaica).

And we were wrong on these 6, which now are expected to be on the nomination list for 2025:

  • Gola-Tiwai Complex (Sierra Leone)
  • Gebel Qatrani Area (Egypt)
  • Tilaurakot, the Archaeological remains of Ancient Shakya Kingdom (Nepal)
  • Koytendag Mountain Ecosystem (Turkmenistan)
  • The Complex of Relics and Landscapes of Yen Tu  (Vietnam)
  • Isla de Flores Cultural Landscape (Uruguay)

How to predict better

Although we have become pretty good at predicting, it remains difficult as some countries have no accessible press outlets, or do not publish in one of the major global languages, which makes Googling for news items hard. Extensions often do not make the news and we miss those regularly. Also, nominations regularly occur a year earlier or a year later than we expected them – this is because of precise deadlines which we obviously cannot monitor firsthand.

My main takeaway of how we can predict better is to keep a more consistent eye on the number of WHS that are ‘Bubbling Under’. These are the sites that continue being active in the background, those who have been trying in the past decade and already did present something to the WHC Bureau: notably the incomplete dossiers, the ones Postponed/Adjourned, the ones in the Upstream Process and the ones receiving a financial budget to write a nomination dossier. I will start a new Forum topic for that (we’ve tried before until 2016).

Recent Referrals (not seen as often anymore since easily overturned at recent WHC) must also be looked at. Deferrals do more have the pattern of a fully new nomination and do not tend to stay under the radar.

And a final thought: I wonder whether we will be given insight into the requests for Preliminary Assessments in this year’s document set. The Preliminary Assessment, aiming at reducing the number of incomplete dossiers and smoothening the process to inscription overall, has been started in 2023. It is an extra step based on desk-based reviews, timed 1 year after a place has been added to the Tentative List and 1 year before WHS submission. These Assessments are voluntary up and until 2027, after which they will become mandatory. This would give us even better insight into which sites are in the pipeline.

Do you have other suggestions to improve our predictions?

Els - 5 May 2024

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Can Sarica 5 May 2024

I think the most effective approach would be to establish contact with someone within the UNESCO office who can discreetly share information with us. :) I believe our interest in upcoming nominations far surpasses that of the officers processing these files for monetary gain.


Blog WH Travellers

Learning from the Birders

The birding community is probably the oldest and largest in the world of people who travel to complete lists. There has been an intriguing event in that community recently, where two people claimed, on the same day, to have seen over 10,000 bird species – the first person(s) to do so. Even with no interest in birding, the debate that followed has produced interesting conclusions that are valid for all those who travel by lists. 

Getting there

The recipe for reaching the high numbers seems to be quite similar. With a total number of identified birds between 10,906 and 11,189 (depending on which list you follow) and the WHS total currently at 1199, for birders thousands are what hundreds are for WH travellers.

So how do you get as far as 8,000 or 9,000 birds (or 800 or 900 WHS)? Moving up the list slowly via the 400(0)s and 600(0)s can be achieved while working full time: ”Their differences are not time and money but dedication, effort, determination, longevity, obsession, etc.”. But “It is the marginal differences that produce 8,000+, 9,000+, etc. Those are big totals. The clean-up trips. The effort for marginal returns. The less salubrious places. The less safe experiences. That is why there are so few people with such numbers.

The birders say that due to the increased availability of information, it is easier to get high numbers now than it was decades ago. “… anybody with a list that is genuinely in the 8k+ region will have been doing this for decades and spent a lot of time and money on foreign trips, but a lot of the earlier trips will have been very inefficient by modern standards. By the time you get into these numbers, you've probably visited all the major birding countries several times, with increasingly low returns of new species (and many of these probably splits you didn't try for previously as they weren't recognised).

We see a similar issue with WHS: even when you have visited a country several times and been to each of its regions, suddenly a ‘new’ WHS pops up (as a new inscription) and you have to go there again only for that one tick. See for example below the Western European Missing Map of high-ranked Thomas Buechler, virtually only lacking visits to the WHS of Talayotic Menorca, Zatec, Evaporite Karst, Nimes and the Eisinga Planetarium (all inscriptions from last year):

Missing Map of Thomas Buechler

The role of Money

Although money isn’t the biggest differentiator to get into the higher ranges, as explained above, it probably is so at the final stages of completion or when you are vying for the #1 position among your peers.

When interviewed by the Mammalwatching podcast, the no. 1 birder confided that money was becoming his biggest restraint. Hiring specialized local guides seems to be the norm nowadays to find the wanted birds, and they come at a cost. Another birder stated: “the length of the list really is down to money when you can pay people to do it for you and the only thing you need is to survive being there.” This view also is reflected in “most if not all professional athletes have managers, coaches, dietitians etc. Hiring professionals makes sense at the edge of possibility.”

The ‘professional help’ isn’t so obvious among WH travellers. The ones that post their experiences on this website try to reach all WHS under their own steam, planning their own trips and resorting to a guided trip to a single WHS only sporadically for practical reasons. In contrast, there are many specialized birding companies and I also noticed last year that many 'country collectors' rely on companies like Lupine to get them easily and cheaply into slightly more difficult countries (one guy had already done more than 15 trips with them!).

Money does become a thing though when you try to visit all WHS over a lifetime. When we look at our list of Least Visited Sites, all WHS have been ticked or reviewed by someone except for Ivindo NP and Odzala-Kokoua (both certainly doable, but expensive and fairly new on the list) and Salonga NP (older and truly hard, check this) - so in theory ticking them all is feasible. But the real hurdle in completing them is having to take multiple “10,000 EUR-trips” to cover all the ultra-expensive ones, mostly involving cruises to remote islands such as these.

The role of Skill

Getting high numbers can also be down to the skills you have:

“You go birding and 9 out 10 interesting sightings of the day, he nails them first. No, 19 out of 20. He sees tiny movements in the tops of trees, scans distant places, and looks in places that you don't. … Checks everything, always scanning, really knows UK birds very thoroughly. He's got good hearing and knows calls extremely well. His track record is crazy. There's a definite sixth sense of where and when to look, and when not to.”

I wonder what a similar ‘WHS skill’ would be. Being on top of what will be nominated and a decent bit of preparation for how the site can be reached and what the opening hours are certainly helps. Creating fault-tolerant itineraries for your trips is a skill, so you get all the WHS you planned to do. Recognizing windows of opportunity for notoriously "unsafe" destinations also is a plus. But it’s mostly planning and perseverance I believe.

What's your opinion on the skill of the WH traveller and the need for 'professional help'?

Els - 28 April 2024

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Els Slots 29 April 2024

@Can – I like the idea of attributing a “strategizing” skill to the WH Travellers. At least I put a lot of effort into it. It’s the result I think of the combination having (a) a fairly long list that no one has ever fully mastered, with (b) very specific places to visit that also have their own particularities (pre-booking, core zone identification, transport etc) and (c) that is refreshed yearly with another 25 or so new ones that are quite random (as in Wojciech’s Turkey example).

@Wojciech - yes, spotting OUV doesn't usually need a guide, maybe it's even the other way around: you arrive as the expert and may have to ignore local guides telling false stories

@Clyde – I agree that ticking a WHS alone is often more satisfying. I prepare better when I am alone, look out for specific things I have read about, and also feel it more as an accomplishment having reached a remote site.

@Danny – We hope to reopen for new subscriptions soon, or provide a workaround. We'd be glad to welcome you.


Danny Bacon 28 April 2024

A very interesting read, as my brother is a twitcher, and we quite often have these same discussions surrounding our different passions. Time, Money, Patience, Planning and a little luck goes a long way. I am waiting to register as I feel I have found my tribe. I have visited 166 sites and about to embark on a 5-year WHS journey (retirement) focussed on visiting WHS sites. I look forward to contributing to discussions and reviews in the future.


Clyde 28 April 2024

Very interesting post indeed, especially for me as an amateur birder and a wh traveller.

Personally, in both cases I find it much more satisfying to spot birds/tick whs alone if at all possible. Obviously, it requires a lot of planning in both cases but also a great deal of luck and patience for birding. I don't mind going on a private or small group guided tour for the harder sites or when it is absolutely necessary.


Wojciech Fedoruk 28 April 2024

Very nice post Els.

I think there are not too many similarities between birders and WH travellers. Professional help may be needed to go to particular site (some of them are not doable on your own), but usually you don't need any help to spot OUV (contrary to particular bird).

I also don't think there is a special skill needed, except, as you write, planning and perseverance. Planning is key, but you will never guess which site may become WHS if it is not even on a T-list. Generally if your time is limited it is better not to focus too much on TWHS, unless they are already scheduled for future WHCs. But even that may be tricky. I remember my trip to Turkey in 2019. I visited Mudurnu and Kizilirmak (both planned for 2019, both withdrawn) and Ahlat (planned for 2020 or 2021, in the end nothing happened) and, albeit being very close, skipped Arslantepe (inscribed soon afterwards).


Can SARICA 28 April 2024

Thanks for this amazing post, Els.

I truly believe in developing a "World Heritage Sites skill". I've transformed as a traveler over the past decade. Take, for instance, my trip to South Africa 8 years ago. I scheduled my visit to Robben Island for the final day of my Cape Town stay. Unfortunately, it was canceled due to bad weather, and I missed out. If I were the traveler I am today back then, I would have prioritized this visit on my first day, giving myself flexibility to reschedule if needed.

What I've learned from seasoned world heritage site travelers is that "clean-out" visits are an essential part of the adventure, unless you're systematically visiting all WHS and TWHS in a region without skipping any (which I humorously think only Zoe accomplishes!). However, I believe the key factor in developing your WHS skill is the number of these clean-out visits you undertake. For example, this summer I plan to visit up to 18 WHS from Guatemala to Panama within a tight two-week timeframe. One approach is to complete each country's sites during this trip to avoid future clean-out visits. If I start in Panama, however, I'll likely only have time to cover Panama and maybe 1 or 2 WHS in Costa Rica. Alternatively, by saving the more time-consuming and costly sites like Darien, Coiba, Stone Spheres, Cocos, Rio Platano, and Tikal for a future visit, I can travel all the way north to Guatemala within two weeks. This strategy allows me to skip 6 WHS initially, each requiring 7-10 days and a significant budget, except for Tikal and Stone Spheres, which can be done in 2-3 days. By adopting this approach, I'll have the opportunity in about five years to visit any TWHS I missed during my first trip that have been inscribed or considered since then. Additionally, subsequent visits may become more affordable and easier over time. These strategic insights have evolved in recent years as I've learned from the experiences of seasoned WHS travelers.


Blog WHS Visits

My #900: Roșia Montană

For some reason, #900 does not feel as much of an achievement as #800 – maybe because I am already planning toward #1000. It certainly never has been a goal in itself. Still, visiting 900 means having covered 75% of all WHS at the time of writing!

I did not ‘engineer’ #900 - my European to-do list is tiny, and my choices for a short getaway in April virtually were between St. Kilda (wrong season), Odesa (rocket attacks), or Rosia Montana. Roșia Montană Mining Landscape popped up as a WHS in 2021 after I had done the rest of Romania already in 2010. Two nearby TWHS also are up for nomination this year, so it was an easy choice. A direct WizzAir-flight between Eindhoven (NL) and Cluj-Napoca (the only international airport in NW Romania) was an added advantage.

Roșia Montană has grown into something of a ‘cult site’ in the WH Community, while it seems rarely visited by ‘normal’ tourists. Several sources had suggested that if I wanted to see the underground mines from Roman times (that’s where the OUV is), I should announce my visit beforehand. It was funny to read the many Google Reviews about the erratic opening hours of the mining museum (officially Tue-Sun 9-16, mostly Tue-Fri between 9 and 14.30 but on “some days they don’t show up”). A few days before I e-mailed them in English and (Google Translated) Romanian on the address given on the official website to communicate when I planned to visit. I got a swift reply that they would be waiting for me.

Getting there proved to be easy by rental car. Just at the point that my Google Maps navigation announced “You have arrived”, I saw a sign pointing to the mining museum on the left side of the road. But that’s about it for directions – no “brown signs” and no UNESCO WH logo. At 10.30 a.m. on a rainy Wednesday morning, I found the gate to the museum compound closed and a small black dog barked its head off to this lonely visitor. The door to the right was open though and I told the man who appeared that I wanted to visit the mine.

He seemed to remember having received my e-mail, although he was still visibly concerned about how to apply the ”5 people minimum for a tour”-rule (I had already told him I would pay for 5 – entry is 20 Lei, so 5x is about 20 EUR). When that was settled (I actually got 5 tickets!), he called the guide. Some people will be sad to hear that the “very unique engineer-guide” as cherished by other community members (and labelled a xenophobic populist in Google Reviews) seems to have been replaced by a professional young guide who speaks good English.

The tour was to last about an hour and comprised three parts. The guide spoke virtually non-stop, more giving a lecture than interacting with the guest(s). We started underground. There’s a long downward flight of stairs from the communist times to tackle before you enter the part excavated by the Romans. No helmets here and no elevator! The main difference between the work of the Roman miners and those of later periods in Rosia Montana’s mining history is that the Romans worked more precisely and efficiently. Using only a hammer and chisel they did not make as wide spaces as did those who used dynamite – they did just what was needed to reach the gold veins. The entrance the Romans used to get this deep underground has been lost.

Above ground, we did a tour of the machines that are exhibited in the field next to the mine entrance – all of a later date of course, but it gives you an idea of how important gold mining stayed for this region until deep into the 20th century. The area was littered with private mines until the communist state mine company put an end to that. This field also includes the lapidarium, where Roman votive altars and gravestones are kept that were found in the surroundings. The main archeological discoveries inside the Roman mine were clay tablets describing contracts, but unfortunately, they have been scattered around the museums and universities of the former Habsburg Empire. They are likely not to be on display either because of their fragile nature.

We finished the tour in the museum, housed in one of the buildings of the former state mine company. Photos show locals searching for gold in the rivers and mining at altitude in the open cast mines. The workers also included children. No word was said during the tour about the controversial Canadian mining permits and the recent outcome of the arbitration process with Romania not having to pay them any damages. When I asked about it, the guide said that he did not know of any plans for further developing the tourism potential of the Roman mining sites around Roșia Montană.

When I left the museum building, the guide had disappeared as had the man at reception. Only the small black dog was still there and insisted on chasing me out.

Els - 21 April 2024

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Blog Connections

Centres of Plant Diversity #2

Plant WHS may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but since my blog post from a month ago Solivagant and I have deep-dived into the Centres of Plant Diversity (CPDs). We got access to the full list and mapped the WHS to CPDs, resulting in two new connections. And, as always with exercises like this, we also learned some other things about WHS and the WH process along the way.

The Books

After a short exploration of the topic on our Forum, it became clear quickly that we could not finish this without having access to at least one (and possibly all three) of the CPD books. These are generally sold new at high prices (60-100 EUR each), but cheaper copies can be bought from online second-hand bookstores. I got Volume 3 (Americas) and Solivagant acquired the whole set including the other continents. It turned out that we needed the full set, as each volume only lists the CPD in its geographical region.

If you’re into encyclopedic specialist works, you might like to have these CPD books in your collection. Each volume is a large hardcover of up to 600 pages, including maps and black-and-white photographs. However, working with them for a few weeks for our purposes, serious flaws came to light as well. Mostly because the work feels incomplete and unfinished – less than half of the CPDs have a usable description. Maybe the project by IUCN and WWF was overambitious from the start, which also could be the reason that no updates have ever been planned. Having been compiled in 1994, they are now outdated as since then many new floral inventories have been done, especially at national parks that came into existence later.

The List of CPDs

It turns out that there are not 234 CPDs, as quoted in several sources including Wikipedia, but 490. The confusion lies in the fact that out of the 490, only 234 are fully described in so-called datasheets and are displayed on the maps in the book. However, the others are identified as well with unique IDs, and each has a short introduction text; they are equally important as the others. Especially for Africa and China, the coverage by full datasheets is low.

Some of the CPDs cover a very large area, such as Central Anatolia and the California Floristic Province (see map below).

Mapping them to WHS

We started the mapping process with a spreadsheet containing all the natural WHS that are inscribed on criteria 7, 9, or 10. As criterion 8 is for geological sites we deemed it irrelevant for this cause. By region and country, we then tried to place the WHS within a CPD, a rather time-consuming task as the texts generally do not reference WHS and – as stated above – over 50% of the CPDs are hardly described or displayed on maps. For those we mostly had to rely on the CPD names plus the state/province they are in. Some WHS for this reason were impossible to map; Kaeng Krachan Forest for example is labelled as being in a CPD in its AB evaluation, but we found no sure match (it could be part of ‘EA58 Limestone flora’ but who knows?).

The mapping led us to the following main conclusions:

  1. Not all WHS with plant diversity OUV are part of a CPD - we've found another 35 that could easily be in there. We only selected the WHS inscribed on Criterion X (biodiversity) and clearly described plant value. Central Suriname Nature Reserve, Coiba NP, Guanacaste, Lopé-Okanda and Noel Kempff Mercado NP seem the most glaring omissions.
  2. IUCN puts way too much worth into the CPD listing – IUCN in its evaluations somewhat routinely refers to a site ‘being in a CPD’, without relating it to specific plant value. They‘d better reuse the criteria (such as “holds over 1,000 plant species”) instead of this outdated inventory.
  3. Criterion X is not always used where it should have been – Some sites, such as Pirin NP and the Hyrcanian Forests, that have only criterion 7 or 9, are clear examples of a CPD. While criterion X was never discussed for Pirin NP (despite the comparative analysis concluding “an extremely rich flora which cannot be matched anywhere else" [in Central and Northern Europe]), it was for the Hyrcanian Forests but IUCN requested an inventory per component of this serial site and I guess Iran/Azerbaijan refused the work and accepted inscription on criterion IX only.
  4. Unrepresented CPDs may identify Natural Gaps on the WH List - most CPDs aren’t represented by a WHS at all. Northern Canada for example has 9 CPDs, but none match a WHS with plant OUV. For example, IUCN found Gros Morne NP (photo 3) representing "about 60% of Newfoundland's flora" but it was not inscribed for its biodiversity. Especially notable is the case of Papua New Guinea, which has no less than 39 separate CPDs but no (natural) plant-related WHS at all! On its Tentative List though linger Kikori River Basin (3 CPDs), Trans-Fly Complex (1 CPD) and Upper Sepik River (3 CPD).

Additionally, we found Table 6 in this IUCN publication about possible future natural WHS based on biodiversity not too reliable. They seem to have mapped the WHS based on geographical coordinates only, which have the hoodoos of Göreme and the fossils of Miquasha being placed in a CPD while they have no plant OUV whatsoever. This is partly caused by the very large size of some CPDs: following this logic it could also be said that cities like Izmir and Los Angeles are in a CPD.  

Connection(s)

We ended up with two connections: one with WHS with plant-related OUV that are part of a CPD, and one with WHS that have Criteria X, clear plant-diversity OUV, and are NOT in a CPD. The first has 95 connected WHS, the latter has 35 WHS. The two combined provide the best overview of WHS that derive their value from biodiversity based on plants and trees.

Some WHS are even spread across 2 CPDs, such as Manu NP, Discovery Coast, Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries, Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan and the Tropical Rainforest of Sumatra.

Several CPDs are represented by multiple WHS. The Mountains of Middle Asia (Tajik National Park, Tugay Forests, Western Tien-Shan), the Eastern slopes of Peruvian Andes (Machu Picchu, Manu NP, Rio Abiseo) and the Sonoran Desert (El Pinacate, Gulf of California, El Vizcaino) each have more than two.

If you have remarks or want more info about WHS and CPDs, please use the Forum post.

Els - 14 April 2024

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Kyle Magnuson 14 April 2024

Just for clarification and a little pride. Los Angeles has the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, together more than 600,000 Acres (and growing) of protected lands (243,000 Hectares). I know of only a few major cities around the World with that kind of protected lands in its backyard! The Santa Monica National Recreation Area is often cited as the largest urban national park in the World.


Blog Exhibitions

Unveiling the Stoclet House

Since its inscription, the Stoclet House in Brussels has been a thorn in the side of the WH community, whose members generally enjoy “the romantic idea that a “World Heritage” should be accessible to the world” (it's even #1 of our Commandments). Its closure has been compared to that of very strict nature reserves, but there at least the buffer zone often supplies similar values (though a bit more degraded) and a visitor center. No other means of interpretation are available for the Stoclet House and what you can see now is the tip of the 'Gesamtkunstwerk' iceberg. Not only can you not visit its interior, but you can also not even see its garden (explicit part of the OUV) and its ‘best’ exterior architecture; any view now is limited to the austere back façade. When you stand on the pavement in front of the building at the Tervurenlaan this is often not understood. Look at this maquette for what the building fully involves:

It's like a small palace (the French name generally used is "Palais Stoclet"), with elaborately designed gardens and terraces and all of that within a city setting.

The exhibition and 3D experience

The Museum for Art and History in Brussels has provided temporary relief from this drought by offering (until April 14) an exhibition on the works of Josef Hoffmann, who was the architect/designer of the Stoclet House. I visited it in its closing days. Special exhibitions like this would be sold out long beforehand in Amsterdam, but here, at this unassuming museum in an oversized building at the Jubelpark, there were plenty of tickets available at the counter and only a handful of visitors roaming the halls. In the first exhibition room, we get to know Hoffmann, his role in the Vienna Succession and the central position of the Gesamtkunstwerk in his work. There are many of his sketches, some furniture and sets of dinnerware, but his best works seem to have been left behind in Viennese museums. I did enjoy the maquettes of buildings he designed such as Cabaret Fledermaus

An extension of this exhibition (added only in January after another row with the Stoclet Family) is a 3D impression of the interior. It is called "Stoclet 1911 - Restitution" and is accessible on the same ticket as the Hoffmann exhibition. The video which shows the interior of the building as it was in its initial years (1911-1915) was made by the Architecture Faculty of Brussels University. It took them 2 years to complete. Based on old photos, sketches and plans and presented as a film, it lets you step into and walk around in the interior of the Stoclet House. A short extract can be seen here.

The video starts with an outside view as it was in 1911, when the facades were white and the ornaments shiny. You then enter a series of rooms. There's a remarkable indoor fountain in one of the corridors. We see the stage of the small theater that is also part of the building. Several of the spaces have black marble walls, which combined with the - I cannot say it otherwise - 'dated' red and brown furniture by Hoffmann resemble a nightclub from the 1970s. The best room seems to be the dining hall: this looks very elegant and is decorated with friezes by Gustav Klimt.

A revisit

After I had seen the exhibition, I couldn't withstand a quick revisit to the building itself. It lies only one metro stop away from the museum, going from Merode to Montgomery. There were three cars present in its parking lot, so things still seem to be going on here although the house hasn't been lived in since 2002. By slowly walking along the fence you can capture some of the Art Nouveau details.

Possible future access

The access situation has been in the News over the past weeks, as the Brussels Government has approved a ruling that any WHS in their jurisdiction has to allow visitors at least 10 days a year. But it has to be seen whether this is a real breakthrough. It has not been ratified by Parliament yet, and even if it will, there are many appeals possible and other ways to delay the execution of the decision (the house surely wouldn’t be ready to receive visitors yet). The Stoclet heirs and the Brussels government have been battling for ages, and there is a lot of bad blood on both sides. The public officials have been pointing at the financial support Brussels yearly provides for its upkeep, but the owners say they put in more of their own money.

For now, the best thing the Brussels Government can do is to keep the 3D experience of the interior on show somewhere in its museums, as it provides a long-awaited interpretation of the OUV of this Gesamtkunstwerk that cannot be admired in any other way.

Els - 7 April 2024

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Astraftis 16 April 2024

So, I went to the exhibition and there were quite some visitors, maybe because it was the weekend. I liked it, but for sure at 18€ (even when counting the rest of the museum) it was totally overpriced. And for heaven's sake, how can you think of closing such a gigantic museum at 17?!?! Anyway, showcase and panels were nice, and the maquette great pieces to understand Hoffmann's works.

Then I also took the opportunity of a sunny evening to go to the house itself, and maybe because of the virtual visit to the interiors, I was still rather impressed. And yes, there was a car parked also this time, so something is stirring!


Astraftis 8 April 2024

Heading straight to the exposition (and the palais itself) this weekend! Thanks for pointing it out, you are always at the forefront! :-)


Jay T 7 April 2024

This sounds like a great exhibition, and I can only hope they do choose to keep some of it on display for posterity, especially if the legal fight over access to Stoclet continues to drag on.


Blog Travel in general

Trip Budgeting

Since I ‘retired’ I have become more focused on budgeting my trips correctly, as the main difference between working a monthly waged job and living off a lumpsum is that your money doesn't get replenished as easily. I can only spend it once. On a macro level, I have implemented a few financial rules such as a yearly travel budget and an average budget per WHS (650 EUR). But also for each trip I manage my finances carefully without pushing myself into a frugal mode.

I just came back from a 5.5-week trip that took me to the US, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile. This was complex enough to provide feedback on my trip budgeting routine due to the different currencies, variable costs of living and the Argentine inflation situation.

Setting the Trip Budget

This trip would – if all went well – bring me to 13 new WHS. So at 13x 650 EUR, a maximum budget of 8,450 EUR was appropriate.  Corrected with the real costs in these countries and the costs of international flights, I set a range of 7,800 – 8,200 EUR. In the end I spent 8,173 EUR.

Detailing the Trip Budget

For each trip, I use the same spreadsheet to create a detailed trip budget. It has the following categories:

  • Hotels: I always book my hotels about a month beforehand, but in such a way that the dates are changeable. So the hotel budget is already quite clear before I leave.
  • Food: I know from experience that in most countries I can do 20 EUR a day if the hotel provides breakfast. Very cheap countries may require only 15 EUR, more expensive ones 25 EUR. As this trip was mostly in Argentina and Chile, I chose the ‘average’ option of 20 EUR a day.
  • Transportation: I covered 28,442 km overall on this trip, so I knew it would be costly. It’s a combination of international flights (in this case, Amsterdam-Miami, San Juan-Montevideo and Santiago-Amsterdam) and domestic flights, bus tickets and car hire expenses.
  • Tours and entrance fees: I look up all entrance fees beforehand of the sites I plan to visit, plus allocate 100-150 EUR for a private day tour and 50 EUR for a shared one (if I don’t know the exact costs already).
  • Other: this is a tricky category, as it always seems low but it can add up. The main expenses here are SIM cards and credit card fees.

Tracking the Trip Budget

I do note down every day what I spend, and allocate these costs to one of the categories mentioned above in the spreadsheet. It looks like this:

Lessons Learned

Although I stayed within the overall budget for this trip, I’ve done better.

  • For Hotels, I managed to stay 300 EUR below my budget. Often in Argentina and Chile, I paid less than was indicated when I booked initially – thanks to the devaluation of both pesos. I also got a 10% discount in Buenos Aires if I paid in cash USD. Furthermore, I often rechecked whether the same hotel offered cheaper rates closer to the arrival date. This way I managed to shave off a bit too, in Argentina and Chile. Overall, I spent ca. 52 EUR a day on hotels which is quite good I think considering the expensive countries that were also in this itinerary.
  • For Food, I almost matched my budget but it was hard. Fortunately, except for Argentina, these aren’t countries known for their great cuisine so I did not miss out on much when I took a ‘budget food day’ (usually at McDonalds or an empanada place).
  • Transportation was the real killer on this trip, I spent 600 EUR more than I had planned and this category covered 58% of all trip costs. I knew the big numbers of the flights beforehand but hadn’t counted for the taxi costs which added up in the Caribbean (where public transport to an airport seems non-existent) and that I needed to switch to car rental instead of buses to cover Northern Argentinian Patagonia. Also, the price of fuel for a rental car is high in Chile.
  • For Other, I needed 3 different SIM plans (US, Jamaica, South America), and even switched to a fourth for Chile only. The Airalo e-SIMs provided the best value for money.

A general money headache for this trip was getting hold of US dollars. They are very expensive to buy in NL (effectively over 1 EUR per 1 USD). What I did in the end was bring some dollars that I had left from earlier trips and get more from ATMs in Miami and Puerto Rico. There I paid about 0.95 EUR to the dollar. If I were to do it again, I would bring less USD (only needed to pay 2 hotels) and more EUR to change into the local currencies (notably the Argentine peso, Photo 3 shows 200 EUR worth of pesos in Feb 2024).

On the positive side (and not reflected in the trip total), I ‘earned’ 800 EUR in KLM vouchers when my initial flight to Miami was cancelled and replaced by one that arrived 5 hours later. I already used it to buy tickets for a trip to India later this year.

Do you have special Travel Budgeting ‘hacks’?

Els - 31 March 2024

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Patrik 17 April 2024

I am in a similar situation as you, as I quit my job 7 years ago to travel, using my savings. Initially I did part of my travels with my car until it broke down near Naples and I sold it. It was unpractical anyway as it had to be taken off the road when I travelled outside Europe for longer time to avoid paying road tax and insurance.

My starting point is that 'time' is an almost unlimited resource, where 'money' is limited. I have set a daily budget of €50, and I also use a standard spreadsheet, though it is yearly with separate tabs for each trip. I log every expense in the sheet but do not have specific categories, except for accomodation. The sheet then also becomes a kind of log, showing which museums I visited and which daytrips I made.

During the trip, I measure if I am 'above' or 'below' budget, without worrying too much about it, the point is just to be aware. I have been consistently below budget these years though it seems I will need an inflation correction this year.

I travel with a focus on WHS, but visiting WHS is not my main purpose. So I do not have a budget per WHS and also skip (natural) sites that I consider too expensive. I have skipped Serengeti for example when I was in Tanzania and have not felt any regrets (something I was worried about when deciding). I instead went to a nature reserve that was on the t-list and had a wonderful experience.

I often make longer trips (4 - 8 months) and fly very little during them. Also, I barely use taxis and shuttles as I dislike them, and generally do not take tours as I find them limiting instead of adding to the experience. To get to places I take public transport and also find hitchhiking enjoyable and fun, to my surprise. And sometimes I walk somewhere with my backpack for a day or so, very relaxing and enjoyable.

My daily accomodation budget is around €20 and depending on the country, this will often mean I stay in airbnb's, and very occasionally in dorms. I like apartments or shared apartments where I can use a kitchen to cook veggies and have nice bread for breakfast, something I miss when eating out for longer periods of time. I thought I will do camping as well but have never gotten to it.

I stopped buying local sim cards (my phone is not able to use e-sim) as the prepaid packages seem to focus lately on selling huge amounts of data for limited periods of time, and it adds up when one just needs 0.5 GB for a month. So I just use wifi when available.

I try to pay directly as often as I can with my NFC chip on my phone, which has a free virtual debitcard which does not add bank fees to the conversion rate, so this is the cheapest way to pay when available, it saves about 1.4% compared to other debit cards or atm cash . It's not a lot, but it adds up.

The other thing is that I often look for cheap flights or train/bus tickets, and based on this see if I can build an interesting itinerary out of it. For example last year my 4 months summer trip started with buying a €22 DB train ticket to Austria 6 months ahead and from there I started booking next steps, towards the Balkans. I often book up to 3 months ahead and then do the rest while traveling. During the trip it will somehow become clear when it has been long enough, and then I will start to see how to get back, usually by booking a cheap plane ticket from somewhere which will then be my destination. It's like a game.

By the way, in my spreadsheet the currency is € for every post. As one of my purposes is to track expenses, I need one currency to be able to compare on a daily basis. I use a conversion cell, so if I spent 10.000 COP in cash, I write for example 10000*q1, which then calculates the amount in € and shows €2.50. And when I pay by card, I write down the actual amount in €. I noticed you seem to do this differently.


Chris W. 31 March 2024

One thing I do heavily is the points&miles game. Now I must say, espcially the miles part, was easier as pre-covid. This way often one can travel around cheaper. But, I do see these as additional trips and not budgetted for the current trip. I would however, if it makes sense, hop hotels on a three night stay (that is 3 hotels instead of just one). Or fly with stopovers just to get more miles.

I do not really use public transport (except for example high speed trains in China). It’s often slower and the faster way make sense so I can work in the morning or evening. Not retired yet.


Els Slots 31 March 2024

Fortunately that wasn't needed on this trip, Michael! But indeed, usually, I put things like visas or vaccinations also in the Other category.


Michael Ayers 31 March 2024

Don't forget to include a line item in the "other" category for "repetitive testing for newly emergent viruses by pcr/antigen." Last time, that added up to $US 2,800 for me... ;-}


Blog TWHS Visits

San Pedro de Atacama

The Tentative Site description for San Pedro de Atacama tries to paint a picture of the history of the region from 10,000 BC til the 18th century AD. The focus of a future WHS may however lay in its Pre-Columbian sites, maybe even narrowed down to the Pre-Incan sites, as the Incan site of Catarpe is already part of the Qhapaq Nan WHS. The people who lived in this high desert region settled down to breed llamas and cultivate maize. They were also part of a wider trade route.

The main archaeological site of the area is Tulor, known in Spanish as Aldea de Tulor (meaning: Village of Tulor). I went there on a bicycle, which is easy to rent in the center of San Pedro. It’s a ride of 11km and the terrain is mostly flat, however at a temperature of 32 degrees Celsius and scorching sun it is exhausting. I stopped twice along the way (at a bus stop and a truck weighing station) to get some shade and drink water. When I finally arrived at the archaeological site, I found a cute bike parking but the entrance to the site was closed. Fortunately, a woman came out and told me they were having a lunch break so I needn’t wait long.

The entrance fee is 5.000 pesos and can be paid by card. From the reception area, it then is another 600-meter walk in the heat through the sand to reach the remains. I can fully understand why the ancient Atacameños abandoned this site! When they settled it, there was water from the San Pedro River. Now there is none and the sand dunes have encroached. The people lived in circular mud huts that were connected via small passageways (photo 1). It’s a small site but it's a wonder that it has been preserved at all given its age and setting. The World Monuments Fund has put money into it twice, but the site was afterward vandalized in 2010 (of which I saw no trace anymore in 2024). All archeological sites and nature reserves in the San Pedro de Atacama region are now managed by the indigenous communities.

Another interesting site is the Pukará de Quitor (photo 2). Now this is a very ‘late’ fortress, established around 1300 which is some 1,000 years after Tulor was abandoned. It saw the Incas arriving around 1450 and the Spaniards conquering it in 1540. It lies a 3km walk from the center of San Pedro, following the dry river bed of the San Pedro River. The entrance fee here is 5,750 pesos (6 EUR), rather steep given the fact that you may not enter the archeological site itself and have to haul yourself up on foot to viewpoints on the hill next to it.

What this site offers though is a few good information panels that split the Atacameño history into 4 phases: (1) the hunter-gatherers, (2) the period of settlement as exemplified by Tulor, (3) a stage from 400-1000 CE where the area was in the sphere of influence of Tiwanaku but which has not resulted in visible remains, and (4) a period of intensified exploitation of the lands. The Pukará de Quitor was used in stage 4 as an administrative center and as a retreat in case of attacks. Again, this is a small site with groups of stone buildings built against a volcanic rock. Both Tulor and Quitor in my opinion have regional value only (hence my ‘thumbs down’ rating). They provide a reasonably interesting view into how people lived outside of the big Pre-Columbian empires, but there will be many of those in the Americas and the Atacameños didn’t leave any traces as remarkable as the Chinchorros did for example with their mummification techniques.

The town of San Pedro de Atacama itself is "tourist central", and it is remarkable how many foreign tourists manage to reach it. Even in mid-March, the daily temperatures rose to 32 degrees Celsius and the sun is unforgiving. From here it is easy to access the natural wonders in its hinterland with a rental car or by day tour. We entered the Atacama Desert on our Missing List, and seeing the geothermal field of El Tatio (photo 3) in the early morning or the Valle de Luna shaped by sandy salt is indeed magic and worth a journey.

Els - 24 March 2024

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Blog Connections

Centres of Plant Diversity

In its evaluations, IUCN over the past years has shown a tendency to refer to a site’s inscription on another list or similar accolade to substantiate its importance. As they say in their 2023 update to the WHC:  “systems such as WWF’s Global 200 Priority Ecoregions, Conservation International’s Biodiversity Hotspots and High Biodiversity Wilderness Areas, Birdlife International’s Endemic Bird Areas, and IUCN/WWF Centres of Plant Diversity, provide useful Guidance”. For floral sites, the go-to-list is ‘Centre of Plant Diversity’. As plants are underrepresented anyway among the connections, I created a new one around these Centres.

What are Centres of Plant Diversity?

Centres of Plant Diversity (CPD) are regions of the world that hold a significant number of plant species and/or have a high number of endemic species. The criteria used are: “Most mainland sites have in excess of 1000 vascular plant species, of which at least 10% are endemic, including some that are termed ‘strict endemics’- those endemic to the site. Island sites typically have fewer species, but a higher percentage of these are endemic.” (source)

They were defined in collaboration between the WWF and IUCN and published in a three-volume publication (1994-1997). They are not being further updated. I’ve found it impossible to find a full list of them, but apparently, there are 234 (there may be global and regional ones, it’s unclear). No form of special protection or management seems to be attached to the label.

Connected Sites

I found the following connected sites by doing searches on the UNESCO WH website, the UNEP-WCMC datasheets and in the evaluation files of sites we have put in the category ‘Wildlife habitat – Flora’.

  • Agastyamalai and Nilgiri Hills (these may be 2 separate CPD’s): Western Ghats
  • Afroalpine: Simien Mountains, Bale Mountains
  • Altoandina: Los Alerces, Los Glaciares (photo 3).
  • Blue and John Crow Mountains (name unsure): Blue and John Crow Mountains
  • Cape Floral: Cape Floral Region Protected Areas (photo 1)
  • Chiribiquete-Araracuara-Cahuinari Region: Chiribiquete
  • Drakensberg: Maloti-Drakensberg Park
  • Kinabalu (name unsure): Kinabalu Park
  • La Réunion: Pitons of Reunion (photo 2)
  • NZSAI and Macquarie Island: New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands, Macquarie Island
  • Primorye: Central Sikhote-Alin
  • Shennongjia: Hubei Shennongjia
  • Socotra: Socotra Archipelago
  • Valley of Flowers: Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers NP

Central Amazon Conservation Complex, Manu National Park, Mount Kenya, Lagoons of New Caledonia, and the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan are also part of a CPD, but it is unknown which one.

Do you know more about Centres of Plant Diversity? Or have you come across additional WHS that can be added to this connection?

Els - 17 March 2024

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J. Stevens 25 March 2024

I had already written down Kaeng Krachan Forest as a Centre of Plant Diversity, when I read the files on that WHS.


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