The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is undertaking the first update of its flagship IUCN World Heritage Outlook, which provides the only global assessment to date of natural World Heritage. The update will allow for changes in conservation status to be tracked in all natural World Heritage sites by comparing results over time. Hundreds of experts, including those from the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, are expected to take part in a rigorous consultation and review process.
Given their high level of recognition, World Heritage sites should be models of conservation and have a good conservation outlook in the face of global challenges, serving as a litmus test of the success of protected areas worldwide. With this first update, the IUCN Outlook will now be able to compare results over time and determine whether conservation prospects are improving or deteriorating for sites.
The 2017 IUCN World Heritage Outlook will be launched in November this year. All site assessments will be updated online at worldheritageoutlook.iucn.org, providing in-depth information on the state of World Heritage values, threats and management effectiveness in each natural World Heritage site currently listed. A global report will further provide an analysis of overall results, giving an overview of trends and issues.
IUCN's Conservation Outlook Assessments are based on best available data from a wide range of sources. The coming months will see hundreds of World Heritage experts take part in a consultation and review process, ensuring site assessments are as accurate as possible and focussed on the most pressing issues. IUCN is gathering input from government agencies, World Heritage site managers, park authorities, non-governmental organisations, community groups, international agencies, academic researchers, as well as from IUCN's networks of experts such as the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas and the IUCN Species Survival Commission.
Launched in 2014 and planned to be updated every three years, the IUCN World Heritage Outlook aims to track the status of all natural World Heritage sites, recognise excellence in their conservation and identify the actions needed to protect them. In 2014, it found that two-thirds of natural sites are likely to be well conserved over time, while the remainder face critical threats such as invasive species, impacts of tourism, poaching, dams and logging. It also identified that climate change could soon become the most widespread threat to natural sites.
World Heritage practitioners who would like to support the 2017 update and contribute knowledge of a particular site can do so by contacting worldheritageoutlook [at] iucn [dot] org.
IUCN is a membership union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organisations, and is the official advisory body on nature under the World Heritage Convention.
Natural World Heritage sites are recognised as the most significant protected areas and include iconic names such as the Galapagos Islands, Yellowstone National Park, Ha Long Bay and the Serengeti.