UNESCO was founded in 1945 by 37 countries. Today, it has more than 195 member countries. UNESCO has been conscientiously working towards safeguarding the world’s cultural heritage.
Till date, there are 1,007 natural and cultural places on the list. To be included in this list, a site or place must have an indispensable value to mankind, & should fulfill 10 criteria. Once on the list, UNESCO will boost efforts in creating awareness of the importance of these sites.
Even financial assistance may be given in order to preserve and conserve the various sites. India is one of the founding members of UNESCO. One of their aims in India is to strengthen conservation of the biodiversity in the protected areas by funding them.
Below is the list of these protected areas which have been included in the World Heritage biodiversity areas list.
|Name of WH Site||State
|1||Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area||Himachal Pradesh||2014||905.4|
Tamil Nadu and
|3||Nanda Devi and
Valley of Flowers National Parks
|4||Sundarbans National Park||West Bengal||1987||1,330.10|
|5||Kaziranga National Park||Assam||1985||429.96|
|6||Keoladeo National Park||Rajasthan||1985||28.73|
|7||Manas Wildlife Sanctuary||Assam||1985||391.00|
Mixed World Heritage Sites
|Name of WH Site||State
|1||Khangchendzonga National Park||Sikkim||2016
Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area
This National Park in the western part of the Himalayan Mountains in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh is characterized by high alpine peaks, alpine meadows and riverine forests. The 90,540 ha property includes the upper mountain glacial and snow melt water sources of several rivers, and the catchments of water supplies that are vital to millions of downstream users.
The GHNPCA protects the monsoon-affected forests and alpine meadows of the Himalayan front ranges.
It is part of the Himalaya biodiversity hotspot and includes twenty-five forest types along with a rich assemblage of fauna species, several of which are threatened. This gives the site outstanding significance for biodiversity conservation.
The Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area is located in the western part of the Himalayan Mountains in the northern Indian State of Himachal Pradesh.
The 90,540 ha property includes the upper mountain glacial and snow melt water source origins of the westerly flowing Jiwa Nal, Sainj and Tirthan Rivers and the north-westerly flowing Parvati River which are all headwater tributaries to the River Beas and subsequently, the Indus River.
The property includes an elevational range from high alpine peaks of over 6,000m a.s.l to riverine forest at altitudes below 2,000m a.s.l. The Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area encompasses the catchments of water supplies which are vital to millions of downstream users.
The property lies within the ecologically distinct Western Himalayas at the junction between two of the world’s major biogeographic realms, the Palearctic and Indomalayan Realms. Displaying biotic elements from both these realms, the Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area protects the monsoon affected forests and alpine meadows of the Himalayan front ranges which sustain a unique biota comprised of many distinct altitude-sensitive ecosystems. The property is home to many plants and animals endemic to the region.
The Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area displays distinct broadleaf and conifer forest types forming mosaics of habitat across steep valley side landscapes. It is a compact, natural and biodiverse protected area system that includes 25 forest types and an associated rich assemblage of fauna species.
The Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area is at the core of a larger area of surrounding protected areas which form an island of undisturbed environments in the greater Western Himalayan landscape.
The diversity of species present is rich; however it is the abundance and health of individual species’ populations supported by healthy ecosystem processes where the Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area demonstrates its outstanding significance for biodiversity conservation.
Kaziranga National Park
In the heart of Assam, this park is one of the last areas in eastern India undisturbed by a human presence. It is inhabited by the world’s largest population of one–horned rhinoceroses, as well as many mammals, including tigers, elephants, panthers and bears, and thousands of birds.
Kaziranga National Park represents one of the last unmodified natural areas in the north-eastern region of India. Covering 42,996 ha, and located in the State of Assam it is the single largest undisturbed and representative area in the Brahmaputra Valley floodplain.
The fluctuations of the Brahmaputra River result in spectacular examples of riverine and fluvial processes in this vast area of wet alluvial tall grassland interspersed with numerous broad shallow pools fringed with reeds and patches of deciduous to semi-evergreen woodlands.
Kaziranga is regarded as one of the finest wildlife refuges in the world. The park’s contribution in saving the Indian one-horned rhinoceros from the brink of extinction at the turn of the 20th century to harbouring the single largest population of this species is a spectacular conservation achievement.
The property also harbours significant populations of other threatened species including tigers, elephants, wild water buffalo and bears as well as aquatic species including the Ganges River dolphin. It is an important area for migratory birds.
Keoladeo National Park
This former duck-hunting reserve of the Maharajas is one of the major wintering areas for large numbers of aquatic birds from Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, China and Siberia. Some 364 species of birds, including the rare Siberian crane, have been recorded in the park.
Keoladeo National Park, located in the State of Rajasthan, is an important wintering ground of Palaearctic migratory waterfowl and is renowned for its large congregation of non-migratory resident breeding birds.
A green wildlife oasis situated within a populated human-dominated landscape, some 375 bird species and a diverse array of other life forms have been recorded in this mosaic of grasslands, woodlands, woodland swamps and wetlands of just 2,873 ha.
This ‘Bird Paradise’ was developed in a natural depression wetland that was managed as a duck shooting reserve at the end of the 19th century. While hunting has ceased and the area declared a national park in 1982, its continued existence is dependent on a regulated water supply from a reservoir outside the park boundary.
The park’s well-designed system of dykes and sluices provides areas of varying water depths which are used by various avifaunal species.
Due to its strategic location in the middle of Central Asian migratory flyway and presence of water, large congregations of ducks, geese, coots, pelicans and waders arrive in the winter. The park was the only known wintering site of the central population of the critically endangered Siberian Crane, and also serves as a wintering area for other globally threatened species such as the Greater Spotted Eagle and Imperial Eagle.
During the breeding season the most spectacular heronry in the region is formed by 15 species of herons, ibis, cormorants, spoonbills and storks, where in a well-flooded year over 20,000 birds nest
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary
The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary provides habitat for 22 of India’s most threatened species of mammals. In total, there are nearly 60 mammal species, 42 reptile species, 7 amphibians and 500 species of birds, of which 26 are globally threatened.
Noteworthy among these are the elephant, tiger, greater one-horned rhino, clouded leopard, sloth bear, and other species. The wild buffalo population is probably the only pure strain of this species still found in India. It also harbours endemic species like pygmy hog, hispid hare and golden langur as well as the endangered Bengal florican.
The range of habitats and vegetation also accounts for high plant diversity that includes 89 tree species, 49 shrubs, 37 undershrubs, 172 herbs and 36 climbers. Fifteen species of orchids, 18 species of fern and 43 species of grasses that provide vital forage to a range of ungulate species also occur here.
On a gentle slope in the foothills of the Himalayas, where wooded hills give way to alluvial grasslands and tropical forests, the Manas sanctuary is home to a great variety of wildlife, including many endangered species, such as the tiger, pygmy hog, Indian rhinoceros and Indian elephant.
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the State of Assam in North-East India, a biodiversity hotspot.
Covering an area of 39,100 hectares, it spans the Manas river and is bounded to the north by the forests of Bhutan.
The Manas Wildlife Sanctuary is part of the core zone of the 283,700 hectares Manas Tiger Reserve, and lies alongside the shifting river channels of the Manas River.
The site’s scenic beauty includes a range of forested hills, alluvial grasslands and tropical evergreen forests. The site provides critical and viable habitats for rare and endangered species, including tiger, greater one-horned rhino, swamp deer, pygmy hog and Bengal florican.
Manas has exceptional importance within the Indian sub-continent’s protected areas, as one of the most significant remaining natural areas in the region, where sizeable populations of a large number of threatened species continue to survive.
Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks
Nestled high in West Himalaya, India’s Valley of Flowers National Park is renowned for its meadows of endemic alpine flowers and outstanding natural beauty.
This richly diverse area is also home to rare and endangered animals, including the Asiatic black bear, snow leopard, brown bear and blue sheep. The gentle landscape of the Valley of Flowers National Park complements the rugged mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi National Park.
Together they encompass a unique transition zone between the mountain ranges of the Zanskar and Great Himalaya, praised by mountaineers and botanists for over a century and in Hindu mythology for much longer.
The Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks are exceptionally beautiful high-altitude West Himalayan landscapes with outstanding biodiversity. One of the most spectacular wilderness areas in the Himalayas, Nanda Devi National Park is dominated by the 7,817 m peak of Nanda Devi, India’s second highest mountain which is approached through the Rishi Ganga gorge, one of the deepest in the world.
The Valley of Flowers National Park, with its gentler landscape, breath-taking beautiful meadows of alpine flowers and ease of access, complements the rugged, inaccessible, high mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi. Apart from some community-based ecotourism to small portions of these parks, there has been no anthropogenic pressure in this area since 1983.
This property therefore acts as a control site for the maintenance of natural processes, and is of high significance for long-term ecological monitoring in the Himalayas.
Sundarbans National Park
The Sundarbans covers 10,000 km2 of land and water (more than half of it in India, the rest in Bangladesh) in the Ganges delta. It contains the world’s largest area of mangrove forests. A number of rare or endangered species live in the park, including tigers, aquatic mammals, birds and reptiles.
The Sundarbans contain the world’s largest mangrove forests and one of the most biologically productive of all natural ecosystems.
Located at the mouth of the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers between India and Bangladesh, its forest and waterways support a wide range of’ fauna including a number of species threatened with extinction.
The mangrove habitat supports the single largest population of tigers in the world which have adapted to an almost amphibious life, being capable of swimming for long distances and feeding on fish, crab and water monitor lizards.
The islands are also of great economic importance as a storm barrier, shore stabiliser, nutrient and sediment trap, a source of timber and natural resources, and support a wide variety of aquatic, benthic and terrestrial organisms. They are an excellent example of the ecological processes of monsoon rain flooding, delta formation, tidal influence and plant colonisation.
Covering 133,010 ha, the area is estimated to comprise about 55% forest land and 45% wetlands in the form of tidal rivers, creeks, canals and vast estuarine mouths of the river. About 66% of the entire mangrove forest area is estimated to occur in Bangladesh, with the remaining 34% in India.
Older than the Himalaya mountains, the mountain chain of the Western Ghats represents geomorphic features of immense importance with unique biophysical and ecological processes. The site’s high montane forest ecosystems influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern. Moderating the tropical climate of the region, the site presents one of the best examples of the monsoon system on the planet.
It also has an exceptionally high level of biological diversity and endemism and is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity. The forests of the site include some of the best representatives of non-equatorial tropical evergreen forests anywhere and are home to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species.
Khangchendzonga National Park – Mixed
Khangchendzonga National Park is one of the most famous wildlife sanctuaries in northeast India. Spread across an area of 1,784sq.km, it’s the largest wildlife reserve in Sikkim, and gets its name from Khangchendzonga, which straddles the western boundary of the park. The reserve is also home to the Zemu Glacier and has been blessed with one of the most magnificent eco-systems in the world.
This national park is home to the snow leopard, Himalayan black bear, Tibetan antelope, wild ass, barking deer, musk deer, flying squirrel and the red panda, among others. The vegetation here includes giant magnolias, rhododendrons and pine forests.