Karst in UNESCO World Heritage Sites


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Publication Date

January 2011


This chapter discusses the requirements that must be met and the ­processes that must be followed before a natural area can be accepted as being ­worthy of World Heritage status under the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. Particular attention is paid to karst and cave sites. Various types of karst are defined and their existing representation on the list of World Heritage properties is discussed. This review finds 43 sites to have internationally significant karst features, with 24 of these to have outstanding universal value. But, it is also evident that numerous important karst areas do not feature on the World Heritage List, especially in the Middle East and Central Asia. Major gaps in coverage occur in arid, semiarid, and periglacial environments, and evaporate karsts are not represented at all. With these gaps in coverage having been identified, attention then turns to the process of application for World Heritage status and the various requirements that must be met, including conditions of integrity, management, and the responsibility of the host state. However, in 2007, the World Heritage Committee noted that karst systems (including caves) are already relatively well represented on the World Heritage List, and so there is increasingly limited scope for recommending future karst nominations. It follows, therefore, that only the best of the best are worthy of putting forward for consideration.


World Heritage, Karst Area, Natural Heritage, Site State Party