The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encour- age the identification, protection and preserva- tion of World Cultural and Natural Heritage around the world considered to be of Outstanding Universal Value. The first marine World Heritage site was Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, inscribed in 1981.
Now there are 45 World Heritage sites listed specifically for their marine values, includ- ing many of the largest and most pristine marine protected areas on the planet. In anticipation of increased interest globally in designating new marine World Heritage sites, UNESCO established a project to pilot a more scientific and robust ap- proach to identify marine sites of potential Out- standing Universal Value in the Western Indian Ocean, an area under-represented on the World Heritage List.
Through this science based ap- proach, that involved WCS scientists, eleven are- as of Outsanding Universal Value within the Western Indian Ocean have been identified as potential marine World Heritage sites, including Nosy Be seascape (North West Madagascar) and Antongil Bay (North East Madagascar) where WCS has been implementing conservation pro- jects for over 15 and 20 years respectively. Read more: