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Protected areas under international law

UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites worldwide

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Detailed source:

UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2015a): List of World Heritage Sites in Danger. Available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/ (viewed: 15.03.2016).

UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2015b): List of States Parties to the Convention. Available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/ (viewed: 15.03.2016).

Three world natural heritage sites inscribed in Germany

The UNESCO World Heritage Convention is one of the most effective international instruments used to protect cultural and natural heritage of outstanding universal value. The World Heritage list contains more than 1,000 sites. Germany has 40 world heritage sites, three of which are classed as world natural heritage.


Under the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (World Heritage Convention), the States Parties agree to protect and preserve cultural and natural heritage of outstanding universal importance.

A key instrument of the World Heritage Convention is the World Heritage List. At the time of writing (July 2015), this contained 1,031 cultural and natural heritage sites in 163 countries, of which 197 are natural and 802 cultural heritage sites. A further 32 sites are mixed sites, which means they are both cultural and natural heritages.

A total of 40 world heritage sites have been recognized in Germany, three of which are world natural heritage sites. These are the Messel Pit Fossil Site in Darmstadt, the Wadden Sea (shared with Denmark and the Netherlands) and five Beech Forests which are part of a world natural heritage site shared with Slovakia and Ukraine. The other 37 world heritage sites are cultural heritage sites.

Some world heritage sites at threat from war or natural disasters

Apart from the World Heritage List, UNESCO also maintains the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger. The world heritage sites contained in this list are threatened by war, natural disasters or poor management, and are in particular need of protection. There are no German world heritage sites on the danger (Red) list.

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