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2,370 ‘Irreplaceable’ Places Identified by Scientists

2,370 ‘Irreplaceable’ Places Identified by Scientists

An international team of scientists has made a list of Earth’s most “irreplaceable” places, highlighting more than 2,300 unique habitats that are key to the survival of rare wildlife. The goal of their research, published in the journal Science, is to help wildlife managers make existing parks and nature preserves more effective at preventing extinction.

“Protected areas can only fulfill their role in reducing biodiversity loss if they are effectively managed,” says Simon Stuart, chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission, in a press release about the study. “Given limited conservation budgets, that is not always the case, so governments should pay particular attention to the management effectiveness of highly irreplaceable protected areas.”

The study offers an irreplaceability score for 2,178 protected areas and 192 proposed sites, ranking their importance to rare wildlife in general and to specific biological groups. It also lists 78 “exceptionally irreplaceable” sites, which host the majority of the populations of some 600 bird, amphibian and mammal species, half of which are threatened. Many of the places already have UNESCO World Heritage protection, but half of the total land they cover does not. That includes the most irreplaceable site on Earth for threatened species, according to the study: Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Natural National Park.

“These exceptional places would all be strong candidates for World Heritage status,” says lead author Soizic Le Saout. “Such recognition would ensure effective protection of the unique biodiversity in these areas, given the rigorous standards required.”

Here’s a look at a few of the irreplaceable places; see the full list for more information.


Manu National Park

Photo: Vil Sandi/Flickr

Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge, U.S.

Western Ghats, India

Photo: Prashanth Dotcompals/Flickr

Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

Photo: Kerem Tapani Gültekin/Flickr
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Natural National Park, Colombia

Photo: Sémaphorismes/Flickr


Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

Photo: Umberto Nicoletti/Flickr

Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, Madagascar

Photo: Ralph Kränzlein/Flickr


Apuan Alps, Italy

Photo: Jacob/Flickr


Northeast Greenland National Park, Denmark

Photo: Rita Willaert/Flickr


Tsavo East National Park, Kenya

Photo: Roberto Faccenda/Flickr



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Read more: Environment, Nature, Travel

Main Photo Credit: Salto Aponguao at Venezuela's Canaima National Park. (Photo: Tjac277/Flickr)

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Kara, selected from Mother Nature Network

Mother Nature Network's mission is to help you improve your world. From covering the latest news on health, science, sustainable business practices and the latest trends in eco-friendly technology, strives to give you the accurate, unbiased information you need to improve your world locally, globally, and personally – all in a distinctive thoughtful, straightforward, and fun style.


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3:31AM PDT on Jun 9, 2015

Thanks for the article. It's a ready-made "bucket list" of gorgeous places to visit for when I win the lottery.

10:51AM PDT on Aug 24, 2014

thanks for sharing :)

2:27AM PST on Jan 26, 2014

Wow - beautiful pictures!! It would be a huge shame to lose any of these or other places!

11:28PM PST on Dec 8, 2013


4:00AM PST on Nov 29, 2013

Beautiful, precious places - thank you

3:22AM PST on Nov 29, 2013

Thank you for the information.

1:20AM PST on Nov 29, 2013

well said Fi T.
On this list from Croatia is only Velebit - the amazing mountain...♥ but there is so much more (Plitvice lake, Rastoke - heaven on Earth...). Come to see with respect:))

3:40AM PST on Nov 27, 2013

Nothing and nowhere is replaceable

8:34PM PST on Nov 26, 2013

Thanks and nice photos.

2:27PM PST on Nov 26, 2013


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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