What is world heritage

The World Heritage List was established in 1972 by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization). The list's objective is to protect the world's cultural and natural heritage.

The World Heritage Convention has the largest scope of all international environmental conventions. The World Heritage List (WHL) is a list of world heritage objects (cultural and natural) within the member countries. The list is updated every year as new areas are identified and nominated. At this time (September 2012) 190 States Parties have ratified the World Heritage Convention, a total of 960 properties are on the list: 745 cultural, 188 natural and 29 properties with mixed natural and cultural heritage. 157 States Parties have properties on the World Heritage List.

The list includes world famous areas such as the Grand Canyon, the Galapagos Islands and Yellowstone National Park.

Norway had their first two nominations entered on to UNESCO's world heritage list as early as 1979: Bryggen, the old wharf of Bergen and Urnes Stave church.
Subsequently the following Norwegian objects made it to the list:
• Røros mining town and environs (1980)
• Rock art of Alta (1985)
• The Vega archipelago (2004)
• Struve geodetic arc (2005)
• West Norwegian Fjords – Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord (2005)

With the exception of the final entry, all of these are cultural properties. The West Norwegian Fjords were entered on the list on 14.07.2005 during the 29th committee meeting in Durban in South Africa, and became the first world heritage object in Norway on the basis of its natural heritage.

World heritage status is the highest international quality stamp an area can achieve. This brings with it a responsibility to safeguard the world heritage sties for posterity. World heritage is also a quality brand for tourism.