The IUCN World Parks Congress meets every ten years, and its November 2014 meeting may prove to be a turning point for protected areas in offering and implementing solutions for the challenges faced by the planet. 

Taken together, the national parks, reserves and designated protected areas of every kind (including the World Heritage natural and mixed natural/cultural sites) now cover 14 per cent of the land surface, and nearly 3 per cent of the seas and oceans. The principles of conservation they apply serve to perpetuate a precious biodiversity. The World Heritage List includes the world’s most outstanding protected areas in terms of biodiversity, ecosystems and natural features, warranting the inclusion of World Heritage as a cross-cutting theme at the World Parks Congress. World Heritage sites are the litmus test for measuring success of the global protected area movement. At the same time, these sites have the potential to be a learning laboratory and a source of inspiration for protected areas.

This issue takes a look at the role of World Heritage in the conservation of protected areas worldwide, its contribution to the protection of wilderness areas globally, while examining how World Heritage can and does support species conservation. We look at how Indigenous peoples play an integral role in protected areas in Australia, and discuss the global conservation agenda and how World Heritage can be part of finding solutions to global challenges in an interview with Zhang Xinsheng, President of IUCN, and Ernesto Enkerlin Hoeflich, Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas.

The exceptional relevance of the 2014 World Parks Congress, in which World Heritage is an active participant, is primarily its global impact in helping to address the gap in the conservation and sustainable development agenda which should, in turn, prove beneficial to individual protected areas. For there is reason to hope that concerted action in this domain may give a much-needed impetus to issues of conservation and biodiversity worldwide, even beyond the range of the protected areas.

Kishore Rao

Director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Table of Contents

In Focus

World Heritage and our protected planet

The 2014 World Parks Congress is the decade’s most important forum to identify and communicate inspiring solutions for protected areas to meet the world’s most pressing global challenges.

World Heritage and wilderness

The World Heritage Convention has been instrumental in protecting many wilderness sites around the world and an even more systematic approach to protecting wilderness areas is under discussion.

World Heritage and species: safe havens for wildlife?

The World Heritage Convention helps to safeguard wildlife sanctuaries by enforcing its rigorous standards of integrity, management and protection. 

Indigenous peoples’ engagement in the protected areas of Australia

Indigenous peoples have actively managed the land and the environment for a sustainable existence as they moved across many types of land and seascapes.

New World Heritage sites 2014

Presentation of the new World Heritage sites inscribed at the 38th session of the World Heritage Committee, Doha (Qatar) in June 2014.



Zhang Xinsheng, President of IUCN and Ernesto Enkerlin Hoeflich, Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas.

Advisory Bodies

ICOMOS: Nature and culture – crossing boundaries, improving practices.


SMART Approach to tackling the poaching crisis in World Heritage sites.



38th World Heritage Committee in Doha; Training workshop on adapting to climate change; Traditional techniques in reconstruction; Pilot phase of Africa

Nature Programme holds closing meeting; Global Oceans Conference points to importance of Marine Programme; Death of Mountain Bull, Kenya’s most

famous elephant; Entrepreneurship for World Heritage; Conservation and sustainable communities in Tanzania; Cultural tourism discussed in Palau; Culturally

natural or naturally cultural?; SIDS meet to strengthen professional capacities; Indigenous knowledge wins the day.

In Danger

International experts meet to protect heritage of Syrian Arab Republic; Palestine site inscribed on Danger List on emergency basis; Emergency Plan to save Madagascar’s forests; City of Potosí in danger from uncontrolled mining; Selous Game Reserve on Danger List.


Jaeger-LeCoultre, the World Heritage Marine Programme and a powerful site managers’ network; Side event at Doha engages the private sector; Seabourn helps to protect World Heritage; Youth-to-youth communication is key, concludes Doha Forum; The Case of the Lost World Heritage, 12th episode.