Purple-faced Langur, Sri Lanka © Ilyas Kalimullin

Natural sites consisting of physical and biological formations as well as areas which constitute the habitat of threatened species of animals and plants are considered to be World Natural Heritage Sites. Those that are inscribed on the UNESCO list of World heritage have played an important role in formation of environments and societies as well as in the cultural life of the people who have inhabited them throughout history.      

Biosphere reserves are natural sites that seek to reconcile the conservation of biological and cultural diversity with economic and social development through partnerships between people and nature. As such, they are ideal to test and demonstrate innovative approaches to sustainable development on both a local and an international scale. Biosphere reserves are sites recognised under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme.

Geoparks are unified areas of geological heritage that use this heritage to promote awareness of geological hazards, such as volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, among local communities whilst adopting standards for the sustainable use of natural resources and “green tourism”. Geoparks undertake their activities within the framework of the UNESCO Global Network of Geoparks.

The Silk Road Online Platform presents and promotes these World Natural Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves and Geoparks alongside the Historic Silk Roads that have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list or undertake their activities in the framework of UNESCO MAB and Geoparks network programs. These three site categories are separated through the filter of “site type” below here.