UK's bird migration superhighway could get UNESCO World Heritage status

Credit: ITV Anglia

A migration superhighway used by millions of birds every year has been recommended by the government to be recognised internationally as a World Heritage site.

The East Atlantic Flyway is a route used by birds when they migrate in the autumn and spring. They fly over parts of Europe, including Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

It is one of seven sites the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is recommending to be considered by UNESCO for its World Heritage Status.

The status recognises places that are of "outstanding universal value to humanity" and should be protected.

The government says it will now work with local authorities to develop their bids.

The East of England has many areas that are important to the bird population. Credit: ITV News

Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said: “Today we are confirming our support for some of the most enchanting heritage sites and breathtaking landscapes in the UK and its overseas territories as they bid for Unesco World Heritage Site status.

“All the locations being put forward would be worthy recipients of this accolade – and we will give them our full backing so they can benefit from the international recognition it can bring.”

The UK currently has 33 sites with World Heritage status, including Stonehenge and Hadrian’s Wall.

England's east coast wetlands form a key part of the East Atlantic Highway Credit: ITV News

Other sites being put forward by the Department of Culture include:

  • the Little Cayman Marine Parks in the UK overseas territory, Cayman Islands - which is important to birds and marine life;

  • York, which has a rich history left behind by its Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman inhabitants;

  • Birkenhead Park, which opened in 1847, and was a project to bring greenery to an urban environment;

  • the Zenith of Iron Age Shetland, a collection of three ancient settlements dating back thousands of years;

  • the Flow Country, a large area of peatland across Caithness;

  • Sutherland in the north of Scotland which plays a crucial role in biodiversity;

  • and the Gracehill Moravian Church Settlement in Northern Ireland.

The last two sites were already submitted to UNESCO earlier this year. Today, the Department of Culture revealed five more sites on its 'Tentative List' - published around every 10 years.

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