VIDEO – Highlands of Mongolian Altai – Future UNESCO World Heritage Site? [2020]

This 15-minute English-language video was prepared by our partners at the Foundation for the Protection of Natural and Cultural Heritage. Recently released, it shows the important natural and cultural heritage in this proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mongolian Altai.

The site, centered on the sacred “5 Peaks” area of Tavan Bogd National Park in western Mongolia, is critical to conserving the entire region’s biodiversity and cultural landscape. In biodiversity terms, there are three main aspects. First, WHS status gives added protections for the habitat and migration corridors of rare species, such as the snow leopard, argali sheep, and raptors. Second, the area is home to diverse rare and endemic plant species. Third, the nominated property is a representative and well-preserved part of a unique, larger natural ecosystem—the Altai Mountains.

Turning to cultural heritage, the area is dotted with Iron and Bronze age sites and artifacts representing a rich overlay of the culture and traditions of nomadic cultures. Scythian and Turkic burial complexes, monumental khirigsuur, and standing stones are among the area’s treasures. The area is also an exceptional example of a living civilization of nomadic herders.

A lengthy process

Nominating a site for inscription on the World Heritage List is a complicated, multi-year undertaking. The Mongolian team began the process in 2014. With our support, the team completed the nomination requirements in late 2020. For the next two years, the team will fine-tune the nomination with the World Heritage Center, Mongolian government, and advisory bodies International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Finally, in mid-2023, the World Heritage Committee will make a final decision.

Learn more about this tremendous undertaking to protect Altai heritage. You can also track the nomination process at the World Heritage Center site.