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Keywords:

  • biogeography;
  • conservation;
  • ecoregion;
  • representativeness;
  • World Heritage

In 1994, the World Heritage Committee adopted a strategy to make World Heritage Sites more “representative.” This article assesses the biogeographic representativeness of natural World Heritage Sites, identifying well-represented and underrepresented biomes and ecological realms. The analysis reveals that sites are not representative in biogeographic terms. However, the identification of an optimal definition of representation is a controversial challenge. Furthermore, the value of representativeness as a goal for a program geared toward protecting exceptional sites is questionable. Instead, representativeness is of greater importance across all protected areas, leaving the World Heritage Convention to fulfill its original mission of protecting the “outstanding.”