2 Aug 2010

Three more Pacific sites gain World Heritage status

7:11 pm on 2 August 2010

Three Pacific sites have been awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO.

They are Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, Kiribati's Phoenix Islands and Hawaii's Papahanaumokuakea.

Bikini was the site of US nuclear bomb testing in the 1940s and 1950s.

UNESCO says the tests dramatically altered the geology and environment of the atoll and symbolised the dawn of the nuclear age.

The Phoenix Islands conserve one of the world's largest intact oceanic coral archipelago ecosystems.

This incorporates 14 known underwater sea mounts thought to be extinct volcanoes and a staggering variety of marine species.

The Papahanaumokuakea chain of tiny islands and atolls, stretches nearly two thousand kilometres north-west of the main Hawaiian Islands.

It was declared both a natural and cultural heritage site.

This is because it's one of the world's largest marine protected areas, and where, in Hawaiian culture, life orginated.