India’s 1,600-km-long Western Ghats has been added to the list of world heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
This mountain chain’s forests are older than those in the Himalayas.
The Western Ghats start at the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra, and runs through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
"The mountain chain of the Western Ghats represents geomorphic features of immense importance with unique biophysical and ecological processes," UNESCO said in a statement on Sunday.
The Western Ghats’ high montane forest ecosystems influence the Indian monsoon weather pattern, it added.
Moderating the tropical climate of the region, the Western Ghats present one of the best examples of the monsoon system in the planet, UNESCO said.
The Western Ghats also has an exceptionally high level of biological diversity and endemism, UNESCO said. It is recognized as one of the world’s eight “hottest hotspots” of biological diversity, it said.
The forests of the site include some of the best representatives of non-equatorial tropical evergreen forests anywhere and are home to at least 325 globally threatened flora, fauna, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish species, UNESCO said.
Apart from India's Western Ghats, UNESCO added seven other natural and cultural properties to the list of world heritage sites.