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Wadi Al-Hitan
وادي الحيتان

egypt

First Listed

2018

Area
200.15km2

Why is it Green Listed?

Wadi Al-Hitan is the most important site in the world to demonstrate one of the iconic changes that make up the record of life on Earth: the evolution of the whales. It portrays vividly their form and mode of life during their transition from land animals to a marine existence. It exceeds the values of other comparable sites in terms of the number, concentration and quality of its fossils, and their accessibility and setting in an attractive and protected landscape. Iconic assemblage of fossilized skeletons of Archaeoceti (primitive whales documenting cetacean transition to marine life), sirenians and reptiles, as well as shark teeth from Gehannam Formation (40-41 million years ago).The Strata in Wadi Al Hitan belongs to Middle Eocene Time and it contains extensive mass of vertebrate fossil within 200 km2.

 

Site Attributes

WDPA ID

Size
200.15km2

Designation(s)
World Heritage Site (natural or mixed)

IUCN Category
II

Year Established
2005

Marine Protected Area
No

Governance Type
Government-delegated management

Site Manager
Mohamed Sameh

Application
10.5.2018

EAGL Evaluation
12.11.2018

GL Committee Submission
12.11.18

EAGL Chair
Mohammed Zaarour

ASI Reviewer
Mounia Essefiani

Site Summary

Wadi Al-Hitan is the most important site in the world to demonstrate one of the iconic changes that make up the record of life on Earth: the evolution of the whales. It portrays vividly their form and mode of life during their transition from land animals to a marine existence. It exceeds the values of other comparable sites in terms of the number, concentration and quality of its fossils, and their accessibility and setting in an attractive and protected landscape. Iconic assemblage of fossilized skeletons of Archaeoceti (primitive whales documenting cetacean transition to marine life), sirenians and reptiles, as well as shark teeth from Gehannam Formation (40-41 million years ago). The Strata in Wadi Al Hitan belongs to Middle Eocene Time and it contains extensive mass of vertebrate fossil within 200 km2. 
  
The World Heritage property is a strictly protected zone. It is an exceptional global reference site because of the number, concentration, quality and accessibility of the evidence of the earliest whales, often in the form of complete skeletons, and the record of the environment that they lived in. 

Biodiversity values are also inherent in the landscape, with threatened fauna and flora benefitting from the WH status and protection efforts.

Wadi Al Hitan is of sufficient size to include the main exposures of rocks where the whale fossils are found, as well as associated geological features of interest. In addition, a wider part of the Wadi El-Rayan Protected Area is included in the property, including the immediate landscape surrounding the fossil sites, areas of scenic interest, and areas which provide visitor access and facilities.

A buffer zone has been identified to protect the property from wider threats, including from visitation and traffic, and could be extended further in order to provide additional safeguards and to facilitate management.

Conservation Summary

  • Site visit report:
  • EAGL meeting minutes :
  • EAGL consensus and vote: Unanimous vote from all EAGL members. Full consensus that Wadi Al-Hitan is superlative model of effective management for the region and should be recommended for the IUCN Green List.

EAGL statement:

  • The EAGL highly recommend to include Wadi Al-Hitan within the IUCN Green List. This is based on: 
    • The site is a world heritage site with a ‘good’ rating on World Heritage Outlook, which confirms good conditions of conservation and sustainability  
    • The site’s natural values are in excellent condition and under effective conservation management 
    • The site is managed “with love” by the staff members, who are qualified, committed and excelling in their work 
    • The stakeholders agree that the site is an added value to Egypt, and Al Fayyom locality specifically which made them all supportive 
    • The site supports local communities in means of capacity building, job opportunities and economic enhancement. 
    • The site is very well-known especially with the number of publications and scientific background it provides 
    • Despite they have provided an open museum, but the site is very well maintained with a perfect compliance 
    Recommendations 
    • The site management has to give more attention to the site fauna and flora documentation. Evidence that biodiversity values are better including in monitoring plan is required by end of 2019. 
    • The site should initiate a climate change modelling and mainstream its results within the site management plan. Progress on this should be reported to the EAGL by end of 2019. 
    • All files (MOVs) have to be uploaded to the compass appropriately by Nov 15th (COMPASS access must be helped by IUCN).

Reviewer statement:

The Reviewer validates Wadi al Hitan’s Green Listing process as being in conformity with the User Manual’s rules and procedures, and confirms that the EAGL conducted a thorough and evidence-based assessment of the site’s submitted self-assessment and MoVs, as can be seen in the EAGL site visit report and in the EAGL statement on COMPASS. As for the other Egyptian candidate site’s process (Ras Mohammed), this deserves a particular mention, especially given the short period allocated before the site visit. It is also important to clarify that the site experienced some issues in uploading relevant pieces of evidence into COMPASS but has proactively communicated these issues with the EAGL visiting members who have had access to these documents during the site visit. The site has received support from the Operations Team to upload the evidence and the EAGL visiting members could have electronic copies of these documents.  Recommendations made by the EAGL are transparently mentioned in the EAGL’s statement. The EAGL voted unanimously for the recommendation of the site to be added into the Green List.  Based on the above-mentioned process, Marnie Bammert’s feedback and the EAGL statement following the discussion, the Reviewer confirms that the site is compliant with the User Manual’s rules and procedures and submits the site to the Green List Committee for their final decision.

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