Top 10 amazing destinations for nature lovers

#OutdoorAdventures #TravelDestinations #WondersOfNature

Take a look at some of the spectacular destinations newly inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Among about two dozen cultural spots, a handful of natural sites have been added to the list, some of them known for its endangered flora and fauna. A total of 34 new properties have been added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List during its 44th session in Fuzhou, southeast China’s Fujian Province. The total number of sites on the List now reaches 1154. We’ve selected a sampling of places every nature, culture and history lover may want to include on their adventure map. Enjoy!

1. JAPAN

Amami-Oshima island, Tokunoshima island, Northern part of Okinawa island, and Iriomote island

Encompassing 42,698 hectares of subtropical rainforests on four islands on a chain located in the southwest of Japan, the serial site forms an arc on the boundary of the East China Sea and Philippine Sea whose highest point, Mount Yuwandake on Amami-Oshima Island, rises 694 meters above sea level.

Entirely uninhabited by humans, Japan’s Mangrove forest has high biodiversity value with a very high percentage of endemic species / © MOEJ

Entirely uninhabited by humans, the site has high biodiversity value with a very high percentage of endemic species, many of them globally threatened. The site is home to endemic plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, inland water fish and decapod crustaceans, including, for example, the endangered Amami Rabbit and the endangered Ryukyu Long-haired Rad that represent ancient lineages and have no living relatives anywhere in the world. 

Five mammal species, three bird species, and three amphibian species in the property have been identified globally as Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species. There are also a number of different endemic species confined to each respective island that are not found elsewhere in the property.

2. ROMANIA

Roșia Montană mining landscape

Located in the Metalliferous range of the Apuseni Mountains in the west of Romania, Roșia Montană features the most significant, extensive and technically diverse underground Roman gold mining complex known at the time of inscription.

Single farmstead with an agro-pastoral production facility in Romania’s Roșia Montană / © Radu Salcudean

The ensemble is set in an agro-pastoral landscape which largely reflects the structures of the communities that supported the mines between the 18th and early 20th centuries.

3. GEORGIA

Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands

The site comprises seven component parts, within an 80km long corridor along the warm-temperate and extremely humid eastern coast of the Black Sea. They provide a series of the most typical Colchic ecosystems at altitudes ranging from sea level to more than 2,500 meters above it.

Aerial view of Georgia’s colchic rainforests and wetlands / © Paata Vardanashvili, Agency of Protected Areas
The site contains 4.500 petroglyphs carved in the rocks during the Neolithic period dated 6 to 7 thousand years ago and located in the Republic of Karelia in the Russian Federation. It is one of the largest such sites in Europe with petroglyphs that document Neolithic culture in Fennoscandia. The rock art figures at Lake Onega mostly represents birds, animals, half human and half animal figures as well as geometric shapes that may be symbols of the moon and the sun. The petroglyphs of the White Sea are mostly composed of carvings depicting hunting and sailing scenes including their related equipment as well as animal and human footprints.

4. REPUBLIC OF KOREA

Getbol, Korean Tidal Flats

Situated in the eastern Yellow Sea on the southeastern and southern coast of the Republic of Korea, the site comprises four component parts: Seocheon Getbol, Gochang Getbol, Shinan Getbol and Boseon-Suncheon Getbol.

The site exhibits a complex combination of geological, oceanographic and climatologic conditions that have led to the development of coastal diverse sedimentary systems.

The dancers of Korean Tidal Flats: Great knots, Bar-tailed godwits and Gray plovers / © World Heritage Promotion Team of Korean Tidal Flat

The site hosts high levels of biodiversity, with reports of 2,150 species of flora and fauna, including 22 globally threatened or near-threatened species. It is home to 47 endemic and five endangered marine invertebrate species besides a total of 118 migratory bird species for which the site provides critical habitats. 

Endemic fauna includes Mud Octopuses, and deposit feeders like Japanese Mud Crabs, Fiddler Crabs, and Polychaetes, Stimpson’s Ghost Crabs, Yellow Sea Sand Snails, as well as various suspension feeders like clams. The site demonstrates the link between geodiversity and biodiversity, and demonstrates the dependence of cultural diversity and human activity on the natural environment.

5. THAILAND

Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex

The site is located along the Thailand side of the Tenasserim mountain range, part of a north-south granite and limestone mountain ridge running down the Malay Peninsula.

Located at the cross-roads between the Himalayan, Indochina, and Sumatran faunal and floral realms, the property is home to rich biodiversity. It is dominated by semi-evergreen/dry evergreen and moist evergreen forest with some mixed deciduous forest, montane forest, and deciduous dipterocarp forest.

Thailand’s Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex is home to rich biodiversity with a number of endemic and globally endangered plant species to be found in the property / © Sunee Sakseau

A number of endemic and globally endangered plant species have been reported in the property, which overlaps with two Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and is noted for its rich diversity of birdlife, including eight globally threatened species.

The property is home to the critically endangered Siamese Crocodile, the endangered Asiatic Wild Dog, Banteng, Asian Elephant, Yellow/Elongated Tortoise, and the endangered Asian Giant Tortoise, as well as several other vulnerable species of birds and mammals.

Remarkably, it is also home to eight cat species: the endangered tiger and Fishing Cat, near-threatened Leopard and Asian Golden Cat, the vulnerable Clouded Leopard and Marbled Cat, as well as Jungle Cat and Leopard Cat.

6. RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Petroglyphs of Lake Onega and the White Sea

The site contains 4.500 petroglyphs carved in the rocks during the Neolithic period dated 6 to 7 thousand years ago and located in the Republic of Karelia in the Russian Federation. It is one of the largest such sites in Europe with petroglyphs that document Neolithic culture in Fennoscandia.

The ancient rock art figures at Lake Onega mostly represents birds, animals, half human and half animal figures as well as geometric shapes that may be symbols of the moon and the sun / © N. V. Lobanova, Republic centre of the state protection of cultural heritage of the Republic of Karelia

The rock art figures at Lake Onega mostly represents birds, animals, half human and half animal figures as well as geometric shapes that may be symbols of the moon and the sun.

The petroglyphs of the White Sea are mostly composed of carvings depicting hunting and sailing scenes including their related equipment as well as animal and human footprints.

7. GABON

Ivnido National Park

Situated on the equator in northern Gabon the largely pristine site encompasses an area of almost 300.000 ha crossed by a network of picturesque blackwater rivers. It features rapids and waterfalls bordered by intact rainforest, which make for a landscape of great aesthetic value.

Gabon’s Ivindo National Park is home to many rare species of flora and fauna. You can spot elephants, gorillas and sitatungas mingling peacefully in Langoué Baï / © David Grey, WCS

The site’s aquatic habitats harbor endemic freshwater fish species, 13 of which are threatened, and at least seven species of Podostemaceae riverweeds, with probable micro-endemic aquatic flora at each waterfall. Many fish species in the property are yet to be described and parts of the site have hardly been investigated.

Critically Endangered Slender-snouted Crocodiles find shelter in Ivnido National Park which also boasts biogeographically unique Casesalpinioideae old-growth forests of high conservation value, supporting, for instance, a very high diversity of butterflies alongside threatened flagship mammals and avian fauna such as the Critically endangered Forest Elephant, Western Lowland Gorilla, the Endangered Chimpanzee and Grey Parrot as well as the Vulnerable Grey-necked Rockfowl, Mandrill, Leopard and African Golden Cat, and three species of Pangolin.

8. ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN

Trans-Iranian Railway

The Trans-Iranian Railway connects the Caspian Sea in the northeast with the Persian Gulf in the southwest crossing two mountain ranges as well as rivers, highlands, forests and plains, and four different climatic areas.

North line, Zarrindasht-Mahabad route of the Trans-Iranian Railway connecting the Caspian Sea with the Persian Gulf / © Hossein Javadi

The railway is notable for its scale and the engineering works it required to overcome steep routes and other difficulties. Its construction involved extensive mountain cutting in some areas, while the rugged terrain in others dictated the construction of 174 large bridges, 186 small bridges and 224 tunnels, including 11 spiral tunnels.

9. BRAZIL

Sítio Roberto Burle Marx

Situated west of Rio de Janeiro, the site embodies a successful project developed over more than 40 years by landscape architect and artist Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994) to create a “living work of art” and a “landscape laboratory” using native plants and drawing on Modernist ideas.

Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, situated west of Rio de Janeiro, is the first modern tropical garden to be inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List / © Diego Rodriquez Crescencio, Iphan/SRBM

The garden is characterized by sinuous forms, exuberant mass planting, architectural plant arrangements, dramatic color contrasts, use of tropical plants, and the incorporation of elements of traditional folk culture. Sítio Roberto Burle Marx exhibits an ecological conception of form as a process, including social collaboration which is the basis of environmental and cultural preservation. It is the first modern tropical garden to be inscribed on the WHL.

10. UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND

The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales

The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales illustrates the transformation that industrial slate quarrying and mining brought about in the traditional rural environment of the mountains and valleys of the Snowdon massif.

The territory, extending from mountain-top to sea-coast, presented opportunities and constrains that were used and challenged by the large-scale industrial processes undertaken by landowners and capital investors, which reshaped the agricultural landscape into an industrial center for slate production during the industrial Revolution (1780-1914).

Dinorwig Slate Quarry Mountain Landscape. The Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales extends from mountain-top to sea-coast / © RCAHMW

The serial property comprises six components each encompassing relict quarries and mines, archeological sites related to slate industrial processing, historical settlements, both living and relict, historic gardens and grand country houses, ports, harbors and quays, and railway and road systems illustrating the functional and social linkages of the relict slate industrial landscape.

The property was internationally significant not only for the export of slates, but also for the export of technology and skilled workers from the 1780s to the early 20th century. It offers an important and remarkable example of interchange of materials, technology and human values.

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