Tuesday, 27 July 2010

UK Submits Downe for UNESCO World Heritage Site Status

Darwin's house, gardens and countryside in the village of Downe, Kent (South East England), is being considered alongside 32 other applicants for UNESCO World Heritage Status, at the 34th committee meeting, being currently held in Brasilia.

Nominated by the UK government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the UK has submitted Downe for its fundamental role in evolutionary biology. Scientist Charles Darwin lived and worked in Downe for forty years, making radical discoveries into evolution and writing 'The Origin of Species'(1859). Darwin’s concepts of evolutionary adaptation through natural selection formed the basis of modern evolutionary theory.

Darwin’s garden at Down House and the countryside surrounding it were central and inspirational to many of his investigations. He used these landscapes extensively for his studies of biodiversity and carried out daily observations and experiments there, many of which are documented in his diaries and autobiography.

The UK has pitched Downe as an open-air laboratory in which the theory of evolution by natural selection was developed, holding universal and worldwide importance in not only life sciences but in medicine, agriculture, philosophy and beyond.

A former girl’s school, Down house and gardens was opened as a museum in 1929, following an appeal at The British Association for the Advancement of Science. Down house has been owned by English Heritage since 1996 and is now considered a site of outstanding international significance. A major UK attraction, Downe has been well preserved, with much flora and fauna still in the habitats in which Darwin observed them.

The landscape and buildings of Downe are testimony to Darwin’s exceptional contribution to our modern day understanding of natural life and thus protection and worldwide recognition is considered vital by many.

Image taken from archifield.net

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