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UN cultural agency designates additions to World Heritage List

UN cultural agency designates additions to World Heritage List

One of the world's fastest glaciers and a rainforest with thousands of plant species are among the natural sites designated for conservation, while a royal mud pyramid in sub-Saharan Africa and a European fortification in North Africa have joined the listed world's cultural heritage in architecture, the United Nations said today.

The 21-member World Heritage Committee of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), meeting in Suzhou, China, has so far added five new addresses to the World Heritage natural sites, bringing the number to 154, and three to the cultural sites, bringing that number to 585.

The committee, chaired by Deputy Education Minister and Chairperson of China's UNESCO National Commission Zhang Xinsheng, has been considering 48 nominations during its 28th session.

The cultural sites added so far include a 17-metre-high mud pyramid built in 1495 in what is now Mali. It marks the grave of Emperor Askia Mohamed of Songhai, the ruler who made Islam the religion of his West African Sahelian territory.

The mud tower-houses, or takienta, of the Batammariba in Koutammakou, northeastern Togo, and neighbouring Benin were also new to the list.

The Portuguese 16th-century colonial city of Mazagan, renamed El Jadida in Morocco, was listed as an early example of European Renaissance military design.

The Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland, administered by Denmark, and the 2.5 million-hectare Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra, Indonesia, with its 10,000 plant species, 580 kinds of birds and 37 kinds of mammals, were added to the list of natural sites.

In the Russian Federation, the committee chose the Wrangel Island Reserve for its extraordinary number of Pacific walruses and closely spaced polar bear dens.

The area of the high, conical volcanoes called the Pitons on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia and the unique landscape of the Cape Floral Region in South Africa also joined the nature list.