Monday, January 03, 2011

World Heritage on the Ocean Portal

This fall I worked on a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and UNESCO's World Heritage Centre.  Earlier this year, the two organizations signed an agreement to develop programs that foster cultural and natural heritage and my project was one of the first of this new collaboration.  Announced in the World Heritage Marine Programme's January newsletter, the Smithsonian has teamed up with UNESCO to make the Marine World Heritage sites available to the public in three new interactive mediums.

First, some background:  The World Heritage Marine Programme exists to effectively conserve existing and potential marine protected areas of Outstanding Universal Value.  In layman's terms, they've identified the world's 43 most important marine protected areas and help where they can to conserve them.

So what is a World Heritage Site? To quote one of my college professors from a previous post:
"If aliens were to land on Earth and you wanted to tell them where the most important ecological, cultural, and historical sites on the planet were, you would use the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites."
Thank you, Barry Allen.

So UNESCO's job is to identify and keep the Taliban from destroying these things. As we've learned from the Micronesia Challenge, a major component of effective conservation is outreach & education.  That is where the collaboration with the Smithsonian Ocean Portal comes in.

Click the photo to visit the World Heritage Site on the Ocean Portal. From there you can follow a link to download the latest version of Google Earth to view the sites on a 3-D interactive map, or watch a slideshow with detailed information on each Marine World Heritage Site, or explore each of the sites on a 2-D map.

There are also links to more information, including an Ocean Portal blog post World Heritage Goes Marine.

Speaking of World Heritage Sites, I visited one during my November visit to the Philippines. It wasn't a Marine World Heritage Site (although the Philippines has two), but I still need to add it to my list of World Heritage Sites I've visited.

I know, I know, you are super excited and want me to post about it now. You're just going to have to wait. I'm going to subject you to more fun adventures from the Fat Boy Flit first.

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