Amid debates over conservation of the Western Ghats, which have been added to UNESCO’s list of iconic places, a World Heritage advisory body has recommended international monitoring to ensure that the 39 biodiversity hot-spots in the region are properly preserved.

The demand from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) came after India refused to accept the demand from the World Heritage Committee that recommendations of the Madhav Gadgil-led Western Ghats Ecology Experts Panel should be implemented as a pre-condition to get the heritage tag for the mountains that are home to precious biosphere reserves.

“We welcome these sites to the World Heritage List, but note the conservation challenges that they face will need additional monitoring by the World Heritage Committee to ensure that these meet the requirements that accompany listing as flagships for global conservation,” Mr Tim Badman, Head of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme, said.

Mr Badman also said IUCN, the world’s largest conservation organisation, had reservations in giving heritage tag to Western Ghats – though it holds “spectacular natural values” – as its “evaluations considered that more work was needed on these nominations to meet the standards the Convention has set in its Operational Guidelines.”

“As the number of natural wonders on the World Heritage List continues to grow, too many sites are left with little resources to manage them properly and conserve the very values they were inscribed for,” the IUCN said.

“Many face a barrage of threats, not least from mining and oil exploration,” it said.

IUCN also noted it is ready to assist the States in protecting the hot biodiversity hot-spots in Western Ghats that is home to rain forests, rivers, waterfalls and a number of mammals including the endangered endemic lion-tailed macaque, the endangered Asian elephant and tiger.