Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Jose Miguel Abito


UNESCO currently oversees the preservation of 209 Natural Heritage sites around the globe which have been selected based on their irreplaceability and their testament to nature’s astounding ecological diversity. It is the mission of the Natural Heritage Convention to preserve their beauty for future generations while making it universally accessible to present ones. In a time when the tourism industry is blossoming more than ever before, this double mission naturally poses the challenge of balancing the benefits and potential threats of increased tourism to Natural Heritage sites. This paper examines the regulations governing the operation of Natural Heritage properties and assesses relevant data on the efficiency of the Natural Heritage Programme as a whole. Realizing that more than three quarters of Natural Heritage sites struggle with problems relating to management, it is concluded that there are two major areas for improvement if it is the goal to increase the sites’ capacity in entertaining tourist visits and capturing their value without sacrificing the preservation of the sites in the process: standardization of management processes and controlled tourism development. The solutions suggested in this paper aim to incorporate the respective local communities into the future operation of Natural Heritage sites, promoting economic growth and development in otherwise often underdeveloped areas while allowing for nature’s beauty to be conserved for many generations to come.


sustainability, natural heritage, unesco, preservation, management, tourism, efficiency, sustainable development goals, eco-tourism



Date Posted: 18 September 2018


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.