Four decades of World Natural Heritage – how changing protected area values influence the UNESCO label

  • Katharina Conradin Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Hallerstr. 10, 3012 Bern
  • Matthias Engesser Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Hallerstr. 10, 3012 Bern
  • Urs Wiesmann Department of Integrative Geography, University of Bern, Hallerstr. 12, 3012 Bern
Keywords: World Natural Heritage sites, international labelling, sustainable regional development, ­conservation debate, global survey

Abstract

Since the launch of the World Heritage Convention in 1972, World Heritage sites have become increasingly popular. To date, more than 1000 sites have received World Heritage status, among them 228 natural and mixed sites. Yet too, in the past four decades, protected area paradigms have evolved from rather strict and exclusionary to more integrative approaches. Nevertheless, relatively little is known on how such developments influence World Natural Heritage (WNH) sites. This paper presents the results of a global survey of 128 of 211 WNH sites listed in 2011 and analyses the results by taking the year of inscription as a reference. The article shows that the understanding of WNH status has undergone great changes: from being perceived as an internationally valued instrument to foster conservation, WNH status has now rather become a label of great promotional importance. This can, e.g., be shown by a decreasing influence of WNH status on the status of protection of a site. Conversely, the influence of WNH status on visitor numbers has increased with time. Furthermore, evidence suggests that more complex effects of WNH status attribution, such as a site’s influence on sustainable development, take time to develop and are thus greater for sites that have been inscribed in the list at an earlier date. Given these developments, it is necessary to rethink whether the World Heritage approach in its current form is still timely, and how the development potential of World Natural Heritage sites can be tapped while ensuring their conservation.

References

Adams, W.M. 2009: Editorial introduction to volume III. – In: Adams, W.M. (ed.): Conservation and development. – Conservation, vol. III. – London: 1-25

Adams, W.M. 2009: Overview to four volumes: ­Conservation. – In: Adams, W.M. (ed.): The idea of conservation. – Conservation, vol. I. – London: xiv-xlii

Buckley, R. 2004: The effects of World Heritage listing on tourism to Australian national parks. – Journal of ­Sustainable Tourism 12 (1): 70-84

Conradin, K. 2014: World Heritage, conservation and regional development. – In: Gravari‐Barbas, M. and S. Jacquot (eds.): Patrimoine mondial et développement au défi du tourisme durable. – Québec: 47-76

Conradin, K., M. Chyumba, K. Boniface, S.N. Mwaura and K. Liechti 2014: World Natural Heritage sites and regional development. The cases of Mt Kenya and Mt Kilimanjaro. – eco.mont 6 (1): 45‐48

Corbin, J.M. and A.L. Strauss 2008: Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. – 3rd ed. – Los Angeles et al.

EEA (European Environment Agency) 2006: The DPSIR framework used by the EEA. – Online available at: http://root-devel.ew.eea.europa.eu/ia2dec/knowledge_base/Frameworks/doc101182, 10/05/2011

Engels, B., K. Manz und B. Job-Hoben 2011: Weltnaturerbe und Tourismus – Herausforderungen und Chancen. – ­Natur und Landschaft 86 (12): 527‐533

Flick, U. 2009: An introduction to qualitative research. – 4th edition. – London et al.

Fox, S. 1985: The American conservation movement: John Muir and his legacy. – Madison, Wisconsin

Fyall, A. and T. Rakic 2006: The future market for World Heritage sites. – In: Leask, A. and A. Fyall (eds.): Managing World Heritage sites. – Abingdon, New York: 159‐175

Galla, A. (ed.) 2012: World Heritage: benefits beyond borders. – Cambridge et al.

Galvin, M. and T. Haller (eds.) 2008: People, protected areas and global change: participatory conservation in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe. – Perspectives of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) North‐South 3. – Bern

Hall, C.M. and R. Piggin 2001: Tourism and World Heritage in OECD countries. – Tourism Recreation Research 26 (1): 103‐105

Hambrey, J. 2007: Social, economic and environmental benefits of World Heritage sites, biosphere reserves and geoparks. – Commissioned report; Scottish Natural Heritage 248. – Perth (UK)

Hammer, T. (Hrsg.) 2003: Großschutzgebiete: Instrumente nachhaltiger Entwicklung. – München

Henderson, N. 1992: Wilderness and the nature conserva­tion ideal: Britain, Canada, and the United States con­trasted. – Ambio 21 (6): 394-399

Hjortsø, C.N., S. Stræde and F. Helles 2006: Applying multi‐criteria decision-making to protected areas and buffer zone management: A case study in the Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal. – Journal of Forest Economics 12 (2): 91‐108

Jha, S. 2005: Can Natural World Heritage sites promote development and social harmony? – Biodiversity and Conservation 14 (4): 981-991

Jimura, T. 2011: The impact of World Heritage site designation on local communities. A case study of Ogimachi, Shirakawa‐mura, Japan. – Tourism Management 32 (2): 288-296

Kates, W.R., T.M. Parris and A.A. Leiserowitz 2005: What is sustainable development? – Goals, indicators, values, and Practice. – Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 47 (3): 8‐21

Lausche, B.J. 2008: Weaving a web of environmental law. – Berlin

Li, M., B. Wu and L. Cai 2008: Tourism development of World Heritage sites in China: a geographic perspective. – Tourism Management 29 (2): 308-319

Library of Congress 1872: U.S. statutes at large, vol. 17, chap. 24, pp. 32‐22: “An act to set apart a certain tract of land lying near the headwaters of the Yellowstone River as a public park“ (Mar. 1, 1872)

Liechti, K. and U. Wiesmann 2004: The contributions of World Natural Heritage sites to sustainable regional development – two case studies from the North and the South. – Revue de géographie alpine / Journal of Alpine Research 92 (3): 84-94

Liechti, K., A. Wallner and U. Wiesmann 2010: Linking a World Heritage site to sustainable regional development – contested natures in a local negotiation process. – Society &

Natural Resources: An International Journal 23 (8): 726‐741

Lonergan, S. 1993: Introduction: Sustainable regional development. – Canadian Journal of Regional Science / Revue Canadienne des Sciences Régionales 16 (3): 335‐339

Marcotte, P. and L. Bourdeau 2006: Tourists’ knowledge of the UNESCO designation of World Heritage sites: the case of visitors to Quebec City. – International Journal of Arts Management 8 (2): 4‐13

Marcotte, P. and L. Bourdeau 2012: Is the World Heritage label used as a promotional argument for sustainable tourism? – Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development 2 (1): 80‐91

Meyer‐Abich, K.M. 1990: Revolution for nature. From the environment to the connatural world [Aufstand für die Natur. Von der Umwelt zur Mitwelt]. – Denton

Mose, I. (ed.) 2007: Protected areas and regional development in Europe: Towards a new model for the 21st cen­tury. – Aldershot et al.

Mose, I. and N. Weixlbaumer 2012: A shift of paradigm? Protected areas policies in Europe in transition – by the example of the Hohe Tauern National Park. – In: Weixlbaumer, N. (Hrsg.): Anthologie zur Sozialgeographie. – Abhandlungen zur Geographie und Regionalforschung 16. – Wien: 106‐124

Nash, R. 1980: The confusing birth of national parks. – Michigan Quarterly Review 19 (2): 216‐226

Pedersen, A. 2002: Managing tourism at World Heritage sites: a practical manual for World Heritage site managers. – World Heritage Manuals 1. – Paris

Pike, A., A. Rodríguez‐Pose and J. Tomaney 2014: Local and regional development in the Global North and South. – Progress in Development Studies 14 (1): 21‐30

Prud‘homme, R., M. Gravari-Barbas, S. Jacquot, M. Talandier, B. Henri-Nicot and B. Odzirlik 2008: Les impacts socio-économiques de l’inscription d‘un site sur la liste du patrimoine mondial: trios études. Report commissioned by UNESCO. – Paris

Rakic, T. 2007: World Heritage: issues and debates. – Tourism 55 (2): 209-219

Rebanks Consulting Ltd and Trends Business Research Ltd on behalf of the Lake District World Heritage Project 2009: World Heritage status: is there opportunity for economic gain? Research and analysis of the socio-­economic impact potential of UNESCO World Heritage site status. – Penrith. – Online available at: http://icomos.fa.utl.pt/documentos/2009/WHSTheEconomicGainFinalReport.pdf, 12/02/2015

Reinius, S.W. and P. Fredman 2007: Protected areas as attractions. – Annals of Tourism Research 34 (4): 839‐854

Saxena, K.G., R.K. Maikhuri and K.S. Rao 2011: Ecotourism in Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve: A win-win option for environmental conservation and sustainable livelihoods. – In: Austrian MAB Committee (ed.): Biosphere Reserves in the Mountains of the World. Excellence in the Clouds? – Vienna: 77-80

Scherer, R., J. Johnsen and S. Strauf 2005: Die wirtschaft­lichen Effekte einer UNESCO Weltkulturlandschaft ­Bodensee. Expertise im Auftrag der Internationalen ­Bodenseekonferenz. – St. Gallen

Schmitt, T.M. 2009: Global cultural governance. Decision-making concerning world heritage between politics and science. – Erdkunde 63 (2): 103-121

Siegrist, D., M. Boesch und E. Renner 2009: Labelregionen – Strategie für eine nachhaltige Regionalentwicklung im Alpenraum. – Forschungsbericht NFP 48. – Zürich

Slocombe, S. and P. Dearden 2002: Protected areas and ecosystem-based management. – In: Dearden, P. and R. Rollins (eds.): Parks and protected areas in Canada. ­Planning and management. – Don Mills, Ont. et al.: 342-370

Steiner, D. 2011: Die Universität der Wildnis. John Muir und sein Weg zum Naturschutz in den USA. – München

Stræde, S. and T. Treue 2006: Beyond buffer zone protection: A comparative study of park and buffer zone products’ importance to villagers living inside Royal Chitwan Natio­nal Park and to villagers living in its buffer zone. – Journal of Environmental Management 78 (3): 251‐267

Timothy, D.J. and G.P. Nyaupane (eds.) 2009: Cultural heritage­ and tourism in the developing world: a regional perspective. – London

Tisdell, C. and C. Wilson 2001: World Heritage listing of Australian natural sites: tourism stimulus and its economic value. – Working Papers on Economics, Ecology and the Environment 60. – Brisbane

UNEP and WCMC 2010: World Heritage information sheets. United Nations Environment Programme. – Online available at: http://www.unep‐wcmc.org/world-­heritage-information-sheets_271.html, 31/08/2011

UNESCO 1972: Convention concerning the protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Adopted by the ­General Conference at its seventeenth session in Paris, 16th November 1972. – Paris

UNESCO 1994: Operational guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage convention. – Paris

UNESCO 1997: Operational guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage convention. – Paris

UNESCO 2011: Operational guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage convention. – Paris

UNESCO 2012: Syndication. World Heritage Committee. – Paris. – Online available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/syndication/, 01/06/2012

UNESCO 2013: World Heritage list. UNESCO World Heritage Centre. – Paris. – Online available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/, 15/08/2013

UNESCO 2014: World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme. – Paris. – Online available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/tourism/, 10/02/2014

UNWTO 2005: Cultural tourism and poverty alleviation: the Asia-Pacific perspective. – Madrid

UNWTO 2013: UNWTO tourism highlights. 2013 edition. – Madrid

WCED 1987: Our common future. – reprint. – Oxford, New York

Weixlbaumer, N. 2005: Naturparke – sensible Instrumente nachhaltiger Landschaftsentwicklung. Eine Gegenüberstellung der Gebietsschutzpolitik Österreichs und Kanadas. – Mitteilungen der Österreichischen Geographischen Gesellschaft 147 (1): 67-100

WHC 2002: Decisions adopted by the World Heritage Committee. 26.COM/9, 26th session of the World Heritage Committee in Budapest, Hungary. – Paris

WHC 2010: Protocol of the 34th Session of the World Heritage Committee on The World Heritage Convention and Sustainable Development. WHC-10/34.COM/5D. 34th session of the World Heritage Committee. – Brasilia

WHC 2010: World Heritage Convention and sustainable development. 34th session of the World Heritage Committee in Brasilia. WHC-10/34.COM/5D. – Paris

WHC 2012: World Heritage Convention and sustainable development. 36th session of the World Heritage Committe in St. Petersburg. WHC-12/36.COM/5C. – Paris

Wiesmann, U. und P. Messerli 2007: Wege aus den konzeptio­nellen Fallen der Nachhaltigkeit – Beiträge der Geographie. – In: Kaufmann, R., P. Burger und M. Stoffel (Hrsg.): Nachhaltigkeitsforschung: Perspektiven der Sozial- und Geisteswissenschaften. – Nachhaltige Entwicklung 80. – Bern: 123-141

Published
2015-03-25
How to Cite
Conradin, K., Engesser, M., & Wiesmann, U. (2015). Four decades of World Natural Heritage – how changing protected area values influence the UNESCO label. DIE ERDE – Journal of the Geographical Society of Berlin, 146(1), 34-46. https://doi.org/10.12854/erde-146-4
Section
Research articles