News Release

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Selected as Proposed World Heritage List Nominee 

Date: December 28, 2023

WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior has authorized the National Park Service to prepare a possible nomination by the United States of Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia to the UNESCO World Heritage List. 
If designated, the refuge would join the list recognizing 1,197 cultural and natural sites of universal importance, such as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the Taj Mahal in India, the Great Wall in China, and the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador. There are sites in 168 of the 195 countries, with 25 in the United States following the addition in September 2023 of Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks in Ohio. 
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, consists of more than 400,000 acres encompassing 92 percent of the Okefenokee Swamp, a large hydrologically intact swamp that is the source of two rivers – one that flows into the Atlantic and the other into the Gulf of Mexico. 
It is one of the world's largest naturally driven freshwater ecosystems with a diversity of habitat types, including 21 vegetative types. The refuge's undisturbed peat beds store valuable information on environmental conditions over the past 5,000 years and are a significant source of information related to global changes. 
The Department will collaborate with partners and consult with the Federal Interagency Panel for World Heritage on the completed document before making a final decision on whether to nominate Okefenokee. If submitted, the final decision for inclusion on the list would be made by the World Heritage Committee, composed of representatives from 21 nations. The date of the actual submission of a nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee may not be for several years. 
Inclusion of a site in the World Heritage List does not affect United States sovereignty or management over the sites, which remain subject only to United States law. Detailed information on the World Heritage Program and the process for the selection of United States sites can be found at the National Park Service’s website.  
The National Park Service manages all or part of 19 of the 25 World Heritage Sites in the United States. It is also the principal U.S. government entity responsible for implementing the World Heritage Convention on behalf of the United States and in cooperation with the Department of State. 
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 425+ national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at, and on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube.  

Last updated: December 28, 2023