27.07.2012 - UNESCO Office in New Delhi

India’s Western Ghats gets World Natural Heritage Status

The ‘Western Ghats’, India’s hottest biodiversity hotspot was inscribed to the World heritage List during the 36th Session of the World Heritage Committee meeting held at St. Petersburg, Russia, in June 2012. A total of twenty-six new sites have been inscribed to the World Heritage List this yea

The Western Ghats inscription is for the serial nomination of 39 sites that include tiger reserves, national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and reserved forests in Maharashtra (4 sites), Karnataka (10 sites), Kerala (20 sites) and Tamil Nadu (5). The mountain chains of Western Ghats are older than the Himalayas and represent geomorphic features of immense importance with unique biophysical and ecological processes. The site’s forest ecosystems influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern. Moderating the tropical climate of the region, it presents one of the best examples of the monsoon system in the planet.

India’s first Biosphere Reserve - the Nilgiri (established in the year 1986, UNESCO designation in 2001) is also a part of the Western Ghats - Nilgiri Sub-Cluster (6,000+ km²). The nomination dossier for the Western Ghats was submitted by the Government of India, in March 2006.

Among the many efforts towards raising awareness among the stakeholders, a capacity building and awareness seminar ‘Save Kaas: Save Heritage’ was organized in Satar (Maharastra) in April 2012. The seminar was part of the ongoing efforts to follow up on the recommendations of the Western Ghats nomination. It brought together some 100 participants including experts and representatives of local government.

Dr Ram Boojh of UNESCO New Delhi office and Dr Rajendra Shende, former Director UNEP participated in the seminar and provided guidance for the conservation of Kaas plateau. The outcome of the seminar was presented by Dr Shende to the World Heritage Committee meeting in St Petersburg. The findings of the seminar emphasized the importance of inscribing such sites to the World Heritage List, which it stated boosts the pride and dignity of the local communities as also enhances their livelihood through promoting ecotourism, green jobs and long-term conservation.

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