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Research that Supports Recreation

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The Benefits of Natural World Heritage

Key Message

This study identifies the full range of direct and indirect benefits that local, national and global communities can receive from natural and mixed World Heritage sites. Examples of benefits, in addition to biodiversity conservation, include the prevention of floods, tourism, cultural and spiritual values and the provision of food and water. 


Osipova, E. et al. (2014). The Benefits of Natural World Heritage: Identifying and assessing ecosystem services and benefits provided by the world’s most iconic natural places. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN. vi + 58 pp.


The study identifies and assesses the diversity of ecosystem services, and in turn the benefits that World Heritage sites can deliver to society and the economy through direct and indirect use or through inherent ‘non-use’ values. It also aims to increase awareness and understanding of the multiple services and benefits that ecosystems can provide as well as their contribution to the well-being of local, national and global communities.


The analysis highlights that, collectively, the network supplies a wide range of benefits. The benefits most frequently identified at site level were ‘recreation and tourism’ (93% of all sites), ‘aesthetic values related to beauty and scenery’ (93%), ‘resources for building knowledge’ (92%), ‘provision of jobs’ (91%), ‘contribution to education’ (84%) and ‘wilderness and iconic values’ (84%). From the environmental services, water provision has the highest score with 66% of sites having been assessed as important for water quantity and/or quality. Carbon sequestration, soil stabilization and flood prevention were also identified as important ecosystem services provided by about half of all natural sites (52%, 48% and 45% respectively - with some 20% reported as data deficient for each service, meaning that potentially another 20% of sites could also be providing these services). 

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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