Monitoring is key to safeguard the irreplaceable value of World Heritage. IUCN monitors the state of conservation of natural World Heritage sites to identify serious conservation issues as early as possible and bring these to the attention of the World Heritage Committee.

This role includes the preparation of State of Conservation reports for about 60 sites every year, involving 10 to 15 field missions, and ongoing day-to-day monitoring. This forms the basis for IUCN’s recommendations to the World Heritage Committee.

The World Heritage Convention has been supporting the conservation of sites for over 40 years, helping to tackle threats or cope in times of war. Over the years, it has inspired communities and nations to do more to recognise and preserve their natural heritage.

Despite the progress achieved, these unique places are increasingly faced with threats, such as extractive activities, large infrastructure projects, poaching and logging, invasive species, agricultural encroachment and armed conflict. Today 16 natural World Heritage sites are danger-listed. IUCN promotes a focus on effective management to ensure the highest level of protection for all World Heritage sites.

In addition to the monitoring work carried out under the World Heritage Convention, the IUCN World Heritage Outlook was introduced in 2014 to assess all sited listed for their natural Outstanding Universal Value. The IUCN Outlook is not part of IUCN’s mandate as Advisory Body and does not replace monitoring under the Convention; rather it complements that work.


State of Conservation reports

Each year, IUCN prepares State of Conservation reports for about 60 of the most threatened natural World Heritage sites in collaboration with UNESCO, and with ICOMOS for mixed natural and cultural sites. These reports present key threats to the sites’ Outstanding Universal Value, identify the practical actions needed to improve their state of conservation, and are based on information provided by the State Parties to the Convention, as well as IUCN's network of experts.

State of Conservation reports are addressed to the World Heritage Committee - the governing body of the World Heritage Convention. On the basis of these reports, the Committee takes site-specific decisions and often requests State Parties to the Convention to implement conservation actions to maintain or improve a site's state of conservation.

A key element of the State of Conservation reporting process is IUCN's yearly Natural Heritage Consultation, which takes place between January and June every year. This consultation process draws together the knowledge and expertise of IUCN Regional and Country Offices, expert networks, particularly the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and the Species Survival Commission, various environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as well as individuals concerned about the conservation of World Heritage Sites worldwide.

To submit comments or information on a natural or mixed World Heritage site please contact us directly at or download a copy of IUCN's Natural Heritage Consultation Form. All information submitted is strictly confidential.

In extreme cases, where a site is in ascertained or potential danger of losing the Outstanding Universal Value for which it was inscribed on the World Heritage List, the Committee may decide to inscribe it on the Danger List.

The State of Conservation Reporting Process

  • Submission of reports by States Parties on the state of conservation of their properties: Reports are submitted in response to requests made by the Committee in its most recent decisions on the properties in question
  • Communication with IUCN's network: Information on the state of conservation of sites is requested and received from various sources throughout the year (including IUCN Regional and Country Offices, Environmental NGOs, WCPA members, IUCN members and partners). IUCN also runs an annual Natural Heritage Consultation process (access IUCN's Natural Heritage Consultation Form)
  • Communication with national governments: Summaries of the information received on conservation issues are forwarded to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, which in turn may write to the national government concerned requesting additional information. These responses are received by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and are reviewed by IUCN and its network of experts.
  • Publication of State of Conservation Reports: The IUCN/ UNESCO State of Conservation reports are published online six weeks before the World Heritage Committee meeting.
  • Presentation of State of Conservation Reports to the Committee: The IUCN/ UNESCO State of Conservation reports are presented to the World Heritage Committee and discussed.
  • World Heritage Committee Decisions: The World Heritage Committee takes binding decisions on the actions needed to maintain or improve the state of conservation of the sites included in the state of conservation reporting process.