The UNESCO World Heritage Committe added 34 sites to the UNESCO World Heritage List last week after meeting in Cambodia. One of Mexico’s natural attraction, El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve, was included on that list, considered of having outstanding universal value.
El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve is located in the Mexican state of Sonora and is made up of two distinct parts. To the east, a dormant volcanic shield, El Pinacate, of black and red lava flows and giant craters; and in the west, the Gran Altar Desert with active sand dunes towering up to 200 meters high. El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar’s variety of landscapes have promoted a large diversity in species, many of which are found only in the Sonoran Desert. The subtropical desert ecosystem is reported to host more than 540 species of vascular plants, 44 mammals, more than 200 birds, over 40 reptiles, as well as several amphibians. The Sonoran Desert is considered to be the desert region with the most biodiversity in the world. The area also has a rich archaeological history and is considered sacred by an indigenous group.
The UNESCO World Heritage list now has 981 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage. Of the 981, Mexico has a total of 32, the largest in the Americas and the sixth most in the world.