21 June 2013

Namibia gets second World Heritage Site: The Namib Sand Sea

The Namib Sand Sea was declared Namibia's second World Heritage Site during the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee in Cambodia (16 - 27 June 2013). Last year, the Namibia National Commission for UNESCO secretariat submitted the area to the World Conservation Union (IUCN), which is evaluating natural heritage nominations for the World Heritage List on behalf of the World Heritage Committee. Namibia's first natural site to be inscribed on the World Heritage List is part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, south of the Kuiseb River in central Namibia.
Namib Sand Sea (Namibia) is the only coastal desert in the world that includes extensive dune fields influenced by fog. Covering an area of over three million hectares and a buffer zone of 899,500 hectares, the site is composed of two dune systems, an ancient semi-consolidated one overlain by a younger active one. The desert dunes are formed by the transportation of materials thousands of kilometres from the hinterland, that are carried by river, ocean current and wind. It features gravel plains, coastal flats, rocky hills, inselbergs within the sand sea, a coastal lagoon and ephemeral rivers, resulting in a landscape of exceptional beauty. Fog is the primary source of water in the site, accounting for a unique environment in which  endemic invertebrates, reptiles and mammals adapt to an ever-changing variety of microhabitats and ecological niches. (UNESCOPRESS 21 June 2013)
Namibia's other World Heritage Site is Twyfelfontein, which got inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2007.

To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. These criteria are explained in the "Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention". Please visit the UNESCO World Heritage Centre's website for more information about the critiria for selection.

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