"Top whatever" lists seem to be popular these days, and a group is conducting an ambitious world-wide poll to determine the "New Seven Wonders of Nature." Their 28 finalists were announced earlier this week, and a U.S. national park is on the list. Voting is now underway to pick the winners.
Even though some may quibble with any organization's claim to run "The Official New7Wonders of Nature campaign," this project is impressive in scope. The New7Wonders Foundation
has the express aim of undertaking documentation and conservation works of monuments worldwide under the motto: "Our Heritage Is Our Future."
The Foundation was established in 2001 by Swiss-born Canadian filmmaker, author and adventurer Bernard Weber to "contribute to the protection of the world’s human-built and natural heritage and to foster respect for the cultural diversity on our planet."
"This campaign should contribute to the appreciation—the knowledge—of our environment and not just the one in our country but worldwide," he told The Associated Press. "If we or our children want to save anything, we should first appreciate it."
Weber says he hopes the current Wonders of Nature campaign will attract participation by one billion people before voting ends next year.
"The internet is perhaps the only democratic means of distributing information around the world since it is free to everyone who has access to a computer and telephone network. That is why we are urging the world's population to participate in this free vote which pays tribute to our collective global cultural heritage."
Candidates in the Official New7Wonders of Nature campaign are "clearly defined natural sites that have neither been created by nor significantly altered by humans for aesthetic reasons."
The 28 Official Finalists were chosen by panel of experts selected by the group, based upon the following criteria:
1. Unique beauty of the nominated site;
2. Diversity and distribution;
3. Ecological significance;
4. Historical legacy (relation that human beings and/or indigenous populations have or have had with the site);
5. Geo-location (even distribution of the 21 Official Finalists between all continents).
Only one finalist per country was allowed, except for sites that share countries, such as those that cross national borders.
The 28 finalists were announced earlier this week, and Grand Canyon National Park made the list. Other sites include Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), the Great Barrier Reef (Australia), Mud Volcanoes (Azerbaijan), and the Amazon rainforest (seven nations).
Voting has just started, via the Internet or by phone, and will continue until sometime in 2011. Efforts are being made to accept only one vote per person, although most people are probably not unduly concerned with serious consequences of any attempt to stuff the ballot box. You'll find details about the campaign and how to vote on the group's website. That site also has a link to details about each of the finalists.
The Official New7Wonders of Nature campaign started in 2007, shortly after a similar campaign to select the man-made Official New 7 Wonders of the World. More than 100 million votes were reportedly cast in that effort.
New7Wonders Founder and President Bernard Weber notes, “We are finding the New7Wonders of Nature campaign to be excitingly different from the first campaign. So many breathtakingly beautiful, natural places are still quite unknown to many. From waterfalls to fjords, rainforests to mountain peaks, freshwater lakes to volcanoes, we are discovering together the incredible beauty and variety of our planet.”
The commonly known Seven Ancient Wonders of the World were all man-made monuments, selected by Philon of Byzantium in 200 B.C. Today, only the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt remain. His selection of wonders was essentially a travel guide for fellow Athenians, and the stunning sites were all located around the Mediterranean basin, the then-known world.
Now, just as Pierre de Coubertin revived the Olympic Games in 1896 with his modern version of the competition, New7Wonders founder Bernard Weber has revived the concept of the 7 Wonders of the World with these ambitious global campaigns, the Official New 7 Wonders of the World and the New7Wonders of Nature.
The key difference is that, this time around, they were not chosen by one man, but rather by millions of people all over the world.
There's no charge to participate, although you have to register on the group's website to vote. The organization says it derives its support from private donations and revenue from broadcasting rights.