UNESCO adds four natural wonders to its World Heritage List

Nadine Bells
Good News

UNESCO added four natural wonders to its World Heritage List in June, National Geographic reports.

The list, which implies that "the sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located" now totals 936 natural, cultural and "mixed" properties.

The newest "natural" additions to the World Heritage List are as follows.

The Kenya Lake System in the Great Rift Valley

UNESCO says this property "is home to 13 globally threatened bird species and some of the highest bird diversities in the world. It is the single most important foraging site for the lesser flamingo anywhere, and a major nesting and breeding ground for great white pelicans."

The black rhino, Rothschild's giraffe, greater kudu, lion, cheetah and wild dogs also call the region of three interlinked lakes home.

Japan's Ogasawara Islands

These Japanese islands made the list for "the wealth of their ecosystems which reflect a wide range of evolutionary processes."

Nearly 200 endangered bird species and the Bonin flying fox, a critically endangered bat, are found on the archipelago, as are more than 400 native plants.

"The remoteness of the Ogasawara Islands has allowed animals and plants to evolve practically undisturbed, making it a living evolutionary laboratory," Peter Shadie, deputy head of  the International Union for Conservation of Nature's World Heritage delegation, told the press.

Australia's Ningaloo Coast

On Australia's remote western coast, the 604,500-hectare property includes one of the world's longest near-shore reefs. The site, with impressive marine and coastal habitats, boasts "exceptional biodiversity." Sea turtles and whale sharks fill its offshore waters. Below ground, streams and underground caves house their own ecosystem.

Wadi Rum Protected Area

Located in southern Jordan, this site, considered a mixed natural and cultural site, features a varied desert landscape — narrow gorges, steep cliffs, arches and rock formations — filled with architectural remains and inscriptions that "trace the evolution of human thought and the early development of the alphabet."