World Heritage

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


Protecting the planet’s most iconic natural places


We advise

~ 60

natural sites are monitored by IUCN each year for the World Heritage Committee; 252 are now listed

We assess

63 %

of all sites listed up to 2020 are assessed by IUCN as having a positive conservation outlook

We provide knowledge

33 %

of sites are threatened by climate change, which is now the top threat to natural World Heritage

How we engage

Natural World Heritage sites are recognised as the planet’s most important protected areas, providing life-supporting benefits to millions of people worldwide. And yet, they are under increasing pressure from climate change, infrastructure development, mining, poaching and other threats.

IUCN is the official advisor on nature to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. IUCN evaluates sites nominated for the World Heritage List and monitors the state of conservation of listed sites. IUCN aims to improve the management of World Heritage sites and enhance the role of the World Heritage Convention in nature conservation and sustainable development.


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Blue and John Crow Mountains, Jamaica Photo: IUCN/Melissa Marín

Advisor on World Heritage

IUCN provides technical advice to help the World Heritage Committee make informed decisions on natural heritage


IUCN World Heritage Outlook Photo: Our Place World Heritage

IUCN World Heritage Outlook

East Rennell, Solomon Islands Photo: IUCN/Paul Dingwall

Global World Heritage projects

IUCN implements initiatives to enhance the role of World Heritage


Monarch Butterfly Reserve, Mexico Photo: IUCN/Wendy Strahm

World Heritage and Climate Change

Climate change is the biggest potential threat to natural World Heritage sites, but these sites can be part of the solution


Quick reads

Aimed at policy-makers and journalists, IUCN Issues Briefs provide key information on selected issues in a two-pager format.

thumbnail_natural World Heritage_issues brief Photo: IUCN

Natural World Heritage

One in five (23%) sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List are natural sites, most often protected areas such as national parks or nature reserves. Natural World Heritage sites are globally recognised...
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