Yellowstone's Biosphere & World Heritage Designations

The United Nations designated Yellowstone National Park as a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve in recognition of the worldwide significance of its natural and cultural resources. These designations do not affect how Yellowstone is managed—the United States retains full jurisdiction over the World Heritage and Biosphere Reserve sites and any related management decisions.

World Heritage Site

Yellowstone National Park was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1978—the United States' first World Heritage location. This designation is part of the World Heritage Convention international treaty, through which member nations agree to cooperate in the conservation and protection of their cultural and natural heritage sites, and particularly those that have been determined to possess outstanding universal value. The United States was the first nation to sign the World Heritage Convention Treaty; since, 190 other countries have also become members to the agreement. Learn more about the World Heritage Convention.

Yellowstone National Park must report regularly to the World Heritage Committee on the status of the park's cultural and natural resources, threats to these resources, and progress made to reduce or eliminate threats. In 1995, the Committee, with the agreement of the United States, placed Yellowstone on its List of World Heritage in Danger. This action was taken in response to specific threats identified to the outstanding universal value of the park. In July 2003, the Committee decided to remove the park from the Danger List.

Biosphere Reserve

Yellowstone is designated as a biosphere reserve. Biosphere reserves are internationally recognized areas where management seeks to achieve sustainable use of natural resources while ensuring conservation of the biological diversity of the areas. The first biosphere reserves were designated in 1976. On October 26, 1976, United Nations designation of Yellowstone as a biosphere reserve stated:

Yellowstone National Park is recognized as part of the international network of biosphere reserves. This network of protected samples of the world's major ecosystem types is devoted to conservation of nature and scientific research in the service of man. It provides a standard against which the effect of man's impact on the environment can be measured.

Yellowstone National Park also reports regularly to United Nations’ Man and the Biosphere Program on the status of the Biosphere Reserve.

Last updated: August 23, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168



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