Some of the world's most important cultural and environmental locations gained additional protections last week when they were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The 19 new World Heritage sites — as identified by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) — will now be preserved to benefit the international community.

This year's additions to the World Heritage List — which now protects 981 locations — includes sites of natural beauty in China and Italy, monuments in the People's Republic of Korea, important cultural and architectural sites in Iran and Italy, an ancient city in the Ukraine, and other locations.

Among the notable additions to the list:

  • Fujisan, the solitary, snowcapped volcano in Japan (also known as Mount Fuji), which is revered as a sacred place and a source of artistic inspiration.
  • Tajik National Park in Tajikistan, one of the least populated sites on Earth, but also the home of more than 1,000 glaciers and a wide range of threatened birds and mammals.
  • Red Bay Basque Whaling Station in Canada, an archeological site that according to UNESCO "provides the earliest, most complete and best preserved testimony of the European whaling tradition."
  • The Medici Villas and Gardens of Tuscany, Italy, famed for innovative architecture and the integrated gardens and buildings that "helped develop the appreciation of landscape characteristic Humanism and the Renaissance."
  • Al Zubarah archeological site in Qatar, a walled, coastal town dating back to the 18th century that has been preserved by the desert's blowing winds. The site has only been partially excavated.
  • The Hill Forts of Rajasthan in India, a collection of six majestic ancient forts built between the 8th and 18th centuries. "The forts use the natural defenses offered by the landscape: hills, deserts, rivers, and dense forests," according to UNESCO. "They also feature extensive water harvesting structures, largely still in use today."
In addition to the 19 new sites, several other locations were added as extensions to existing World Heritage sites. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya was added to the Mount Kenya National Park World Heritage site. The park is an important part of the migratory path for Kenya's endangered elephants.

UNESCO acknowledged during its World Heritage Convention last month that preserving these nearly 1,000 important sites comes at a high cost, and that money is running out. "The situation of the fund is becoming alarming," Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who chaired the conference, said during his opening speech. According to a report from The Cambodia Daily, other speakers said that economic constraints have affected the funding available to protect some of these sites in recent years. But UNESCO Executive Council President Alissandra Cummins said these sites are too important to lose: "Failure is not an option," she said during the conference.

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