Established in 1946, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is a specialised group responsible for protecting sites across the world that are important to humanity. An important UNESCO duty is to discover, catalogue and maintain World Heritage Sites around earth. These sites are natural marvels, ecological wonders and culturally significant places. All World Heritage Sites are considered as being of great importance to the human race.
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is the most extensive, richest and most complex coral reef ecosystem in the world. The reef is located off the coast of Australia in the Coral Sea and stretches 2,300 kilometres long. It is bigger than the Great Wall of China. It is also one of the few living formations visible from space and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Approximately 2,900 reefs and 900 islands make up the Great Barrier Reef and provides a home to many vulnerable species, some endemic to the area. The reef is under constant threat by pollution, over-fishing and climate change, and there are concerns with the damage inflicted by the some two million tourists that visit the area every year. It is hoped that tourism in the Great Barrier Reef will become more ecologically sustainable in the future and several actions have been taken to achieve this goal. For example disposing of bird waste from tourist platforms and creating anchorage points to prevent anchoring to the reefs.
Over a million visitors explore Chichén Itzá in the east side of Yucatán, Mexico every year by taking tour busses from the nearby tourist resort of Cancún. Chichén Itzá is a pre-Columbian city constructed by the Mayans and remained a significant Mayan location for centuries. The eclectic architecture illustrates the diversity of its population. Points of interest of this World Heritage Site include the Templo de los Guerreros (Temple of the Warriors), the Venus Platform in the great plaza and elaborate mosaic masks dotted around. The Temple of the Warriors is one of the most remarkable structures at Chichén Itzá. It consists of a temple on top of three thick tiers stacked on a stone base and is bordered by carved columns, understood to represent Toltec warriors.
Komodo National Park
Thousands of giant lizards roam the volcanic island Komodo, one of three major volcanic islands situated in the centre of the Indonesian archipelago. The landscape of Komodo consists of dry grass-woodland savannah interspersed with pockets of lush green vegetation and sprawling white beaches. The park is named after these giant lizards that are not found anywhere else in the world and are so large and aggressive looking that they were dubbed Komodo Dragons. Besides these great beasts, known for being the biggest living species of lizard on earth, the park has a diverse range of other species including sea turtles and dugongs. Scientists flock to the park as its inhabitants are considered important in evolutionary studies. The unique ecology is credited to the location of the islands being between the Sunda and Australian ecosystems. Great focus is placed on sustainability and eco-tourism at the Komodo National Park.
Thanks to UNESCO these incredible sites and others are preserved for generations to come.