Natural landmarks in Africa, Asia and Australia added to UN heritage list

Geyser spewing super hot water at Lake Bogoria, Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley

24 June 2011 – Lake districts in China and Kenya, a coastline in Australia, a fishing delta in Senegal and a string of Japanese islands were today added to the World Heritage List, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported.

UNESCO identified the Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley, Australia’s Ningaloo Coast, the Ogasawara Islands of Japan, the Saloum Delta in Senegal and the West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou as the newest entrants on the list, which includes more than 900 sites deemed by the UNESCO-backed World Heritage Committee to be of outstanding universal value.

The committee is meeting this week at the Paris headquarters of UNESCO to discuss the latest nominations to the World Heritage List. A total of 35 nominations will be reviewed by the end of the committee’s session on 29 June.

The Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley comprises three inter-linked, relatively shallow lakes – Lake Bogoria, Lake Nakuru and Lake Elementaita – in the country’s Rift Valley province and covers a total area of 32,034 hectares. It is home to 13 globally threatened bird species and some of the highest bird diversity in the world.

The 708,350-hectare marine and terrestrial property of Ningaloo Coast, on a remote section of the western coast of Australia, includes one of the longest near-shore reefs in the world and is home to numerous sea turtles and annual gatherings of whale sharks.

The 30 islands that comprise the Ogasawara are situated 1,000 kilometres south of Japan’s main archipelago and are home to a wealth of fauna, including the Bonin Flying Fox, a critically endangered bat, and 195 endangered bird species.

West Lake in Hangzhou and the hills surrounding it have inspired famous poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century. It comprises numerous temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens and ornamental trees, as well as causeways and artificial islands.

Fishing and shellfish gathering in Senegal’s Saloum Delta has sustained human life for more than two millennia. The site comprises brackish channels encompassing over 200 islands and islets, mangrove forest, an Atlantic marine environment, and dry forest.

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