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World Heritage Sites

What are they?

World heritage site is the highest and most prestigious accolade that can be given in recognition of an areas globally outstanding natural and/or cultural heritage.  It is a non-statutory designation made by the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) under the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted in 1972 by the General Conference of UNESCO and ratified by the UK Government in 1984.

Where are they?

Scotland has one natural world heritage site, also our only joint natural and cultural world heritage site - the islands of St Kilda external site , some 66 km northwest of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. 

The extensive flow country peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland is on the tentative list of future possible world heritage sites.

How are they protected and managed?

World heritage site designation requires statutory protection, and management of the global interest.  St Kilda external site is protected through designation also as a Natura site (both a special area of conservation and a special protection area) and as a site of special scientific interest.  It is managed as a national nature reserve by the National Trust for Scotland external site .

How are they selected and designated?

Proposals for world heritage site designation are made to UNESCO's Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, via Defra/ UK Government, by the Scottish Ministers, supported by advice from Scottish Natural Heritage.

The UNESCO committee maintains the list of designated sites and a tentative list of sites which are under active consideration. The Committee reviews the list every 5 years, and may recommend a site requires further protection; remove a site from the list if it considers it inadequately protected or if it has been damaged and has lost its global interest.



Last updated on Monday 16th January 2017 at 14:31 PM. Click here to comment on this page