Eight New Natural Wonders Named
Eight new natural wonders, including the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico andwhat has been dubbed "the Galápagos of the Indian Ocean," have been added to the WorldHeritage List.World Heritage Sites are named by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and CulturalOrganization (UNESCO). The sites, both cultural and natural, added to the list are deemed "of outstanding value to humanity" and deserve protection and preservation, according to theUNESCO Web site.With the new additions, the World Heritage List now boasts 878 sites (679 cultural, 174 naturaland 25 mixed) in 145 countries. The eight new natural sites added this year include:Joggins Fossil Cliffs (Canada) Mount Sanqingshan National Park (China) Lagoons of NewCaledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems (France) Surtsey (Iceland) Saryarka -Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan (Kazakhstan) Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve(Mexico) Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona (Switzerland) Socotra Archipelago (Yemen)"These eight stunning natural sites are amongst the best of what nature has to offer," said DavidSheppard, head of the IUCN's Protected Areas Program, which recommended the sites. (IUCNstands for International Union for Conservation of Nature.)Below are details on all the sites:The Socotra Archipelago is known as "the Galápagos of the Indian Ocean" and is home to 825plant species of which 37 percent can only be found there. Ninety percent of its reptile speciescan be found nowhere else. Its marine life is also diverse, with 253 species of reef-building corals,730 species of coastal fish and 300 species of crab, lobster and shrimp.Socotra is already well set up for long-term conservation, IUCN officials say, as about 75 percentof its land area is already included in natural sanctuaries and national parks.The Joggins Fossil Cliffs have also drawn a comparison to the diverse Pacific Islands madefamous by Charles Darwin's work, as they are sometimes called "the Coal Age Galápagos." Thecliffs are considered to be an excellent reference site to the Coal Age (about 300 million yearsago). The rocks there bear witness to the first reptiles in Earth's history and preserve upright fossiltrees."This is a fascinating site where you can literally see a slice of history," said Tim Badman, WorldHeritage advisor of IUCN's Protected Areas Program.