According to the World Heritage Convention, "natural heritage" designates outstanding physical, biological, and geological features; habitats of threatened plants or animal species and areas of value on scientific or aesthetic grounds or from the point of view of conservation.
In a vast natural forest in Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park covers more than 9,000 square kilometres. An impressive collection of geothermal phenomena can be observed there, including more than 3,000 geysers, fumaroles and hot springs.
Volcanoes National Park (Big Island, Hawaii
Two of the most active volcanoes in the world, Mauna Loa (4,170 metres high) and Kilauea, tower over the Pacific Ocean at this site. Volcanic eruptions have created a continually-changing landscape, and the lava flows reveal surprising geological formations. Rare birds and endemic species can be found there, as well as forests of giant ferns.
Hawaii Volcanoes National park is an area of outstanding natural beauty. The site is a unique example of island building through on-going volcanic processes, and represents the most recent activity in the continuing process of the geological origin and change of the Hawaiian Archipelago. The park represents native subtropical rain forest and mesic forest communities, providing an excellent example of succession following dynamic volcanic activity, as well as habitats for several threatened and endemic species.
The Aeolian Islands provide an outstanding record of volcanic island-building and destruction and ongoing volcanic phenomena. Studied since at least the 18th century, the islands have illustrated two of the types of eruption (Vulcanian and Strombolian) to vulcanology and so have featured prominently in the education of all geoscientists for over 200 years. The site still continues to enrich the field of vulcanological studies.
Archaeological Areas of Pompei and Ercolano (Italy)
When Vesuvius erupted on 24 August 79 AD it engulfed the two flourishing Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as the many rich villas in the area. Since the mid 18th century these have been progressively uncovered and made accessible to the public. The vast expanse of the commercial town of Pompeii contrasts with the restricted but better preserved remains of the holiday resort of Herculaneum.
National Park (Ecuador)
With its outstanding natural beauty and two active volcanoes, the park illustrates the entire spectrum of ecosystems, ranging from tropical rainforests to glaciers, with striking contrasts between the snowcapped peaks and the forests of the plains. Its isolation has encouraged the survival of indigenous species such as the mountain tapir and the Andean condor.
Situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km from the South American continent, these 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique "living museum and showcase of evolution". Located at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galápagos are a "melting pot" of marine species Ongoing seismic and volcanic activity reflects the processes that formed the islands. These processes, together with the extreme isolation of the islands, led to the development of unusual animal life – such as the land iguana, the giant tortoise and the many types of finch – that inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution following his visit in 1835.
of Kamchatka (Russia)
This is one of the most outstanding volcanic regions in the world, with a high density of active volcanoes, a variety of types, and a wide range of related features. The six sites included in the serial designation group together the majority of volcanic features of the Kamchatka peninsula. The interplay of active volcanoes and glaciers forms a dynamic landscape of great beauty. The sites contain great species diversity, including the world's largest known variety of salmonoid fish and exceptional concentrations of sea otter, brown bear and Stellar's sea eagle.
Howe Island (Australia)
A remarkable example of isolated oceanic islands, born of volcanic activity more than 2,000 m under the sea, these islands boast a spectacular topography and are home to numerous endemic species, especially birds.
Macquarie Island (34 km long x 5 km wide) is an oceanic island in the Southern Ocean, lying 1,500 km south-east of Tasmania and approximately halfway between Australia and the Antarctic continent. The island is the exposed crest of the undersea Macquarie Ridge, raised to its present position where the Indo- Australian tectonic plate meets the Pacific plate. It is a site of major geoconservation significance, being the only place on earth where rocks from the earth's mantle (6 km below the ocean floor) are being actively exposed above sea-level. These unique exposures include excellent examples of pillow basalts and other extrusive rocks.
Eastern Rainforest Reserves (Australia)
This site, comprising several protected areas, is situated predominantly along the Great Escarpment on Australia's east coast. The outstanding geological features displayed around shield volcanic craters and the high number of rare and threatened rainforest species are of international significance for science and conservation.
and McDonald Islands (Australian Territory)
Heard Island and McDonald Islands are located in the Southern Ocean, approximately 1700 km from the Antarctic continent and 4100 km south- west of Perth. As the only volcanically active subantarctic islands they "open a window into the earth", thus providing opportunities to observe ongoing geomorphic processes and glacial dynamics.
National Park (New Zealand)
The mountains at the heart of the park have cultural and religious significance for the Maori people and symbolize the spiritual links between this community and its environment. The park contains active and extinct volcanoes, a diverse range of ecosystems and highly scenic landscapes.
Kenya National Park (Kenya)
Mount Kenya, 5,199 m, is the second highest peak in Africa. It is an ancient extinct volcano, during whose period of activity 3.1 - 2.6 million years ago it is thought to have risen to 6,500 m. There are twelve remnant glaciers on the mountain, all receding rapidly, and four secondary peaks that sit at the head of the U-shaped glacial valleys. The area inscribed includes the upper slopes of the mountain, and two salients which make up the National Park and surrounding Forest Reserve. With its rugged glacier-clad summits and forested middle slopes, Mount Kenya is one of the most impressive landscapes in Eastern Africa. The evolution and ecology of its afro-alpine flora also provide an outstanding example of ecological processes.
Turkana National Parks (Kenya)
The most saline of Africa's large lakes, Turkana is an outstanding laboratory for the study of plant and animal communities. The three National Parks serve as a stopover for migrant waterfowl and are major breeding grounds for the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus and a variety of venomous snakes. The Koobi Fora deposits, rich in mammalian, molluscan and other fossil remains, have contributed more to the understanding of paleo-environments than any other site on the continent. Recent volcanic activity occurred in the area.
Conservation Area (Tanzania)
A large permanent concentration of wild animals can be found in the huge and perfect crater of Ngorongoro. Nearby, the crater of Empakaai, filled by a deep lake, and the active volcano of Oldonyo Lenga can be seen. Excavations carried out in the Olduvai Gorge, not far from there, have resulted in the discovery of one of man's more distant ancestors, Homo habilis.
National Park (Tanzania)
The highest point in Africa, Kilimanjaro is a volcanic massif 5,963 metres high which stands, isolated, above the surrounding plains, with its snowy peak looming over the savannah. The mountain is encircled by mountain forest, and numerous mammals, many of which are endangered, live in the park.
National Park (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Virunga National Park (covering an area of 790,000 ha) comprises an outstanding diversity of habitats, ranging from swamps and steppes to the snowfields of Rwenzori at an altitude of over 5,000 m, and from lava plains to the savannahs on the slopes of volcanoes. Mountain gorillas are found in the park, some 20,000 hippopotamuses live in the rivers and birds from Siberia spend the winter there.
National Park (Democratic Republic of Congo)
A vast area of primary tropical forest dominated by two spectacular extinct volcanoes, Kahuzi and Biega, the park has a diverse and abundant fauna. One of the last groups of mountain gorillas (consisting of only some 250 individuals) lives at between 2,100 and 2,400 m above sea-level.
and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Niger)
This is the largest protected area in Africa, covering some 7.7 million hectares. The area considered as a protected sanctuary is only one- sixth of the total area. It includes the volcanic rock massif of the Aïr, a small Sahelian pocket, isolated as regards its climate and flora and fauna in the Saharan desert of Ténéré. The reserve boasts an outstanding variety of landscapes, plant species and wild animals.
Gros Morne National
Situated on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland, the park provides a rare example of the process of continental drift, where deep ocean crust and the rocks of the earth's mantle lie exposed. More recent glacial action has resulted in some spectacular scenery, with coastal lowland, alpine plateau, fjords, glacial valleys, sheer cliffs, waterfalls and many pristine lakes.
Teide National Park (Canary Islands, Spain)
Teide volcano is the highest peak in the Atlantic Ocean and the world's third tallest volcano, with a height of 7500 m above the ocean floor. The volcano was observed in eruption by Columbus in 1492.