Seven Sites Win Backing to Become UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Seven sites across the UK and its overseas territories have been backed by the Government to win Unesco World Heritage status. The prestigious designation is given to places of cultural, historical or scientific significance.
York city centre, Birkenhead Park and an iron age settlement in Shetland are among the locations. If successful, they will join the 33 world heritage sites already based in the UK.
York, the cathedral city with Roman origins, is a popular tourist destination in northern England. It’s home to many historic buildings and landmarks, such as a Minster, castle and the magnificent 3.4km circuit of medieval city walls.
It’s also a major centre of commerce and trade, with its wool-trading roots dating back to the Anglo-Saxon period.
York is one of seven sites that received Government backing to win Unesco World Heritage status. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) publishes a “tentative list” around every decade setting out which sites it believes have the best chance of receiving the prestigious designation.
Birkenhead Park, located in Merseyside, was established in 1847 and is regarded as the world’s first publicly funded civic park. Its innovative design inspired many other parks worldwide, including New York’s famous Central Park.
In Birkenhead Park, influential architect Joseph Paxton designed a c 90-ha landscape with parkland, meadows, woodland and two lakes. It was an inspiration for American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted who incorporated Birkenhead Park’s ideas into the design of Central Park, New York.
Wirral Council and the Friends of Birkenhead Park are working to seek UNESCO’s recognition as a World Heritage Site. Joining the Tentative List is a significant step forward in that process.
The Zenith of Iron Age Shetland
The Zenith of Iron Age Shetland, a collection of three ancient settlements on Shetland, has won UK backing to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It includes the island of Mousa, which is best known for the Broch of Mousa, as well as Old Scatness and Jarlshof.
The sites are regarded as some of the most significant examples of European Iron Age settlements outside the Roman Empire and represent an era in which human society developed in unprecedented ways. They are characterized by the dramatic cultural and architectural changes they underwent.
The East Atlantic Flyway
The East Atlantic Flyway, a migratory bird route over western parts of Europe including Norfolk and Suffolk, has won UK backing to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Flyway, which starts in northeast Canada and runs south as far as South Africa, is used by millions of birds every year.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is recommending seven sites to UNESCO to gain the prestigious world heritage status. They include York city centre, Birkenhead Park in Merseyside, The Little Cayman Marine Parks and Protected Areas in the UK overseas territory of the Cayman Islands and The Flow Country, a large area of peatland across Caithness and Sutherland in Scotland’s north.
The Little Cayman Marine Parks and Protected Areas
The Little Cayman Marine Parks and Protected Areas have won UK backing to be put forward for UNESCO World Heritage status. This is a huge step for the island and will undoubtedly bring even more protection and awareness to this beautiful marine ecosystem.
The marine environment on this small island is already recognized as a Mission Blue Hope Spot, and the UNESCO nomination will significantly help to bolster its reputation. Its resilient coral reefs, healthy apex predator populations and rebounding fish populations are a testament to the effective long-term commitment from the Cayman Islands Government and Cayman Islands Department of Environment (CIDOE) to protecting its unique habitat.
The Flow Country
Flow Country, an expansive blanket bog system stretching across Caithness and Sutherland, is a global treasure trove of flora and fauna. It is also an important store of carbon – nearly 400 million tonnes in total – and a vital defence against climate change.
The Flow Country is being backed by the UK government to become the first peatlands to be awarded World Heritage Site status. A group of organisations including NatureScot, Highland Council and RSPB Scotland is leading the bid.
It is not only one of Europe’s largest blanket bogs but also one of its most intact. It is a crucial habitat for wading birds such as golden plover and dunlin and has been restored using pioneering techniques.
Gracehill Moravian Church Settlement
The quiet Co Antrim village of Gracehill near Ballymena has taken a step closer to achieving World Heritage status. It’s now part of a multi-national bid to secure recognition from UNESCO as part of a group including sites in Denmark, the United States and Germany.
Originally built in 1759, the settlement remains intact today with its central square and historic buildings around it. The Church is at the centre of the village, flanked by a Manse and a Warden’s House. On either side of the Church are “Brothers’ Walks” and a “Sisters’ Walk”, meeting at a “God’s Acre”. The village is highly structured and all residents were members of the church.