With 53 recognized natural sites, cultural listings and intangible goods, Italy is the country with the highest number of UNESCO World Heritage listings. Having the honor to be listed by UNESCO as World Heritage, is not only a matter of prestige, it also brings real and verifiable effects on local tourism and economies, and this is one of the reasons why more and more bids are being put forward for natural, cultural, and intangible listings. One of the Italian candidates to obtain UNESCO seal of approval in 2019 is the area identified as the “Mediterranean Alps”.
The natural site submission, which is a joint bid with France and the Principality of Monaco, encompasses the Maritime Alps Natural Park, the National Mercantour Park, the Marguareis Park and the Ligurian Alps Park, including Monte Saccarello, the highest peak in Liguria. The territory stretches across Italy, France, and Monaco and it encompasses several portions of the inland between the Maritime Alps, and the Tyrrhenian coast, including Capo Mortola, the last Italian cape before the French border.
This unique territory boasts a unique ecosystem, with incredible biodiversity, populated by 40% of all known species of European butterflies. Biologists here have an extremely interesting case-study at hand, in fact, some of the species of plants found in this stretch of land have kept the same characteristics for over 20 million years. Moreover, having survived three geo-dynamic cycles over 400 million, it is a veritable mine of information on the history of our planet, which geologists from all over the world have been studying for decades.