May 12, 2021

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

Northward view at Claife, Lake District National Park. (Andrew Purcell)

Last week, the UK government put the Lake District forward as one of its 11 nominees for new UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Other sites nominated by the government include the Forth Bridge and St Helena, the South Atlantic island where Napoleon died in1821. The government is also making a third attempt to have Charles Darwin’s former house in Kent recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

So, why is UNESCO World Heritage Site status important? Well, UNESCO recognition brings with it a range of benefits, particularly in terms of conservation. For the Lake District, it also highlights the cultural importance of an area where the government was recently attempting to sell-off vast swathes of forest land. Article 27 (Section VI) of the ‘UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage’ states:


  • “The States Parties to this Convention shall endeavor by all appropriate means, and in particular by educational and information programmes, to strengthen appreciation and respect by their peoples of the cultural and natural heritage defined in Articles 1and 2 of the Convention.”
  • “They shall undertake to keep the public broadly informed of the dangers threatening this heritage and of the activities carried on in pursuance of this Convention.”


You can read the ‘UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage’ in full here.

The UK’s nominations will be considered at a meeting of UNESCO in June. This meeting was scheduled to take place in Bahrain, but it has had to be moved to Paris on account of the political unrest in the Middle East.

In the meantime, you can check out the UK’s current UNESCO World Heritage Sites on this map below: