Decision : 32 COM 8B.9
Examination of nomination of natural, mixed and cultural proprerties to the World Heritage List - Joggins Fossil Cliffs (CANADA)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-08/32.COM/8B and WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B2,

2. Inscribes The Joggins Fossil Cliffs, Canada, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criterion (viii);

3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:


The Joggins Fossil Cliffs have been termed the "coal age Galápagos" and are the world reference site for the "Coal Age". Their complete and accessible fossil-bearing rock exposures provide the best evidence known of the iconic features of the Pennsylvanian (or Carboniferous) period of Earth History.

Criterion (viii): Earth's history, geological and geomorphic features and processes: The "grand exposure" of rocks at Joggins Fossil Cliffs contains the best and most complete known fossil record of terrestrial life in the iconic "Coal Age": the Pennsylvanian (or Carboniferous) period in Earth's history. The site bears witness to the first reptiles in Earth history, which are the earliest representatives of the amniotes, a group of animals that includes reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, and mammals. Upright fossil trees are preserved at a series of levels in the cliffs together with animal, plant and trace fossils that provide environmental context and enable a complete reconstruction to be made of the extensive fossil forests that dominated land at this time, and are now the source of most of the world's coal deposits. The property has played a vital role in the development of seminal geological and evolutionary principles, including through the work of Sir Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin, for which the site has been referred to as the "coal age Galápagos".


The boundaries of the property are clearly defined in relation to logical stratigraphic criteria and include all of the areas necessary to fully display the fossil record of Joggins including the cliff face and foreshore rock exposures, and include both the most fossiliferous strata and younger and older rocks that provide geological context. The inland extent of the property is defined based on the eroding top of the cliffs and this is a fully justifiable and logical basis to cope with the dynamic nature of this coastal property. A relatively narrow buffer zone is defined, which is not part of the inscribed property, but is sufficient to control coastal development which could otherwise threaten the values of the property.

Requirements for Protection and Management

The property has effective legal protection and has the strong support of all levels of government, including in relation to the provision of funding. Some aspects of the legislation, such as for the licensing of fossil collection are cumbersome and would benefit from review, although can be better implemented if site managers are empowered to do so. The site is well resourced, including through the provision of a new visitor centre, and is managed in a way that can be considered to set international standards. The effective process of community involvement and partnerships between scientists, museums and economic interests are also noted, and the biggest challenge of the property will be to maintain the level of performance and resources required in the future.

4. Notes the very high quality of documentation of the nomination and the process of community engagement in its preparation, over a period of almost ten years, as models in the preparation of nominations and in effective management of World Heritage properties;

5. Recommends that the State Party widely publicise the results of its monitoring of fossil resources produced by natural erosion and the development of educational and research collecting policies, which could serve as a model for such management elsewhere.

Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Canada
Properties: Joggins Fossil Cliffs
Year: 2008
Decision Code: 32 COM 8B.9