UNESCO has voted to add Iran’s Hyrcanian forests and Iraq’s Mesopotamian metropolis of Babylon to its list of World Heritage Sites.
The announcement was made by the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization on July 5 in Baku, where the World Heritage Committee met.
In making the announcement on July 5, UNESCO said the “floristic biodiversity” of the ancient Hyrcanian forests in the north of Iran is “remarkable.”
UNESCO said the forests run some 850 kilometers along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. They date back up to 25 to 50 million years, it said, and are home to the Persian Leopard, nearly 57 other mammal species, and 180 bird species.
The forests were just one of two natural sites added to the UNESCO list on July 5, with the other in China.
Iran also has 22 cultural sites on the World Heritage List, including the jewel of the first Persian empire, Persepolis.
Meanwhile, after more than 35 years of trying, Iraq was finally able to have Babylon recognized by UNESCO.
The city, which straddles the Euphrates River some 100 kilometers south of Baghdad, was the center of the ancient Babylonian empire more than 4,000 years ago.
Just 18 percent of the massive 10-square-kilometer complex has been so far excavated.
UNESCO recognized World Heritage Sites beginning in 1978 as part of efforts to preserve the world’s cultural and natural heritage. There are nearly 1,100 sites on the list.