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Sri Lanka's Central Highlands Added to UNESCO's World Heritage List.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Central Highlands of Sri Lanka was added to the World Heritage List by the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee (WHC) at its 34th Session in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia. The WHC decision was unanimous.

The Sri Lankan nomination was the first to be considered among 32 nominations.

The area identified by UNESCO includes the Peak Wilderness Protected Area, the Horton Plains National Park and the Knuckles Conservation Forest.

It has been 19 years since a site in Sri Lanka has been added to the World Heritage List. The previous property listed was the Dambulla Rock Temple, which was named a World Heritage Site in 1991.

The Central Highlands, described by UNESCO as a "super biodiversity hotspot," is home to an extraordinary range of flora and fauna, including several endangered species such as the western-purple-faced langur, the Horton Plains slender loris and the Sri Lankan leopard. Earlier this month, scientists captured the slender loris on camera after many feared it had gone extinct.

The flora of the Knuckles is so distinct that it is recognized as a separate floristic region within Sri Lanka. At least 10 of the 23 endemic bird species that make Sri Lanka an Endemic Bird Area are also found in the Knuckles Range.

Deputy Minister of Environment Faiszer Musthapha stated that this WHC decision is a resounding vote of confidence for Sri Lanka and President Mahinda Rajapaksa by the international community. He hailed it as a victory for the people of Sri Lanka, who have suffered immensely from the scourge of terrorism that plagued the island nation for nearly three decades.

Heading a delegation to Brazil, the Deputy Minister Musthapha underscored the fact that the inscription of the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka as a World Heritage Site would encourage the government to mobilize additional resources for the protection and conservation of the environmentally fragile areas of the site.

Sri Lanka has a total of eight World Heritage sites. The six cultural sites include the historic cities of Polonnaruwa, Sigiriya, Anuradhapura, Galle, Kandy and the temple in Dambulla. The Sinharaja Forest Reserve is the other natural site.

The World Heritage list currently includes 899 properties in 149 countries around the world that the committee deems as having "outstanding universal value." The sites consist of 696 cultural sites, 176 with natural significance and 27 that have both.

SOURCE Embassy of Sri Lanka
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Publication:PR Newswire
Geographic Code:9SRIL
Date:Aug 5, 2010
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