Smoky Mountains National Park – A UN “World Heritage” and “Biosphere Reserve”. My research into those meanings and UN – U.S. National Parks

United Nations Parks

I live in East Tennessee.  I recently took a friend of mine who was visiting me up to the Smoky Mountains National Park.

I love going up into the mountains and have gone many times needless to say.  We camp up there often at the Elkmont campgrounds inside the park.  Which as a side note has one of the only two places in the world where the fireflies are synchronized during their peak time,  the first week of June.  The fireflies blink at exactly the same time in the Elkmont campground – Millionaires Row area.

Another side note – The Smoky Mountains are considered one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world.  They are 200 to 300 Million years old.

The Great Smoky Mountains are among the oldest mountains in the world, formed perhaps 200-300 million years ago. They are unique in their northeast to southwest orientation, which allowed species to migrate along their slopes during climatic changes such as the last ice age, 10,000 years ago. In fact, the glaciers of the last ice age affected the Smoky Mountains without invading them. During that time, glaciers scoured much of North America but did not quite reach as far south as the Smokies. Consequently, these mountains became a refuge for many species of plants and animals that were disrupted from their northern homes. The Smokies have been relatively undisturbed by glaciers or ocean inundation for over a million years, allowing species eons to diversify.

We got up to Newfound Gap where the Tennessee and North Carolina State line divides the park, which I have gone to multiple times.  We walked down the viewing walkway away from the main area that people congregate at.  When we got to steps that go back up to the parking spaces, there were two plaques on either side of the steps, attached to the stone walls. somewhat obscured.  I stopped to read them for the first time ever.  I was surprised at what I read and took pictures of the plaques to research the information on the internet and find out what exactly the plaques meanings were.

Here are the pictures I took and what the plaques say:

I thought “What the Hell is a UN World Heritage site?”  The way it read to me is that the Smoky Mountains are not actually a National Park of the United States and thus the People of the United States are not the owners, but is controlled by the United Nations.

Did our U.S. government give up our national park to the UN in 1983?

I am sure the average person who reads the plaques think “Oh, how awesome these mountains are considered ‘World owned mountains and are protected through the UN.’

But for those of us who know about the UN Agenda 21, we know that it means the U.S gives up Sovereignty to the UN to become a “One World Government and control of land and resources.”

Needless to say the above plaques disturbed me and I wanted to know exactly what their meanings were.

I have now done the research and have found the U.S. government has given the UN control of most of our National Parks, including the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Redwood Forest, Mammoth Caves, Statue of Liberty, Olympic National Park, the Everglades, the list goes on.  Here is the map of the 21 sites that the U.S. has allowed the UN to have as “World Heritage” sites.

Here is the list of the 21 sites in the United States:

Properties inscribed on the World Heritage List (21)

Now, here is the map of All the UN “World Heritage” Sites throughout the world.  There are 936 of them.

I began doing lots of searches for exactly what the meaning of “World Heritage and Biosphere” meant.

Here are a few of the sites I found and what they say about it:

The World Heritage List
Who owns a site once it’s inscribed on the World Heritage List?

The site is the property of the country on whose territory it is located, but it is considered in the interest of the international community to protect the site for future generations. Its protection and preservation becomes a concern of the international World Heritage community as a whole.

The World Heritage Committee, a group of 21 representatives from countries who have agreed to abide by the convention, decides which sites of “outstanding universal value” qualify for World Heritage status. UNESCO, or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, adopted the World Heritage designation in 1972 after it was uncertain if some of the world’s landmarks would survive into the future.

On the other hand, many concerns about how biosphere reserves operate in the U.S. are factually based, reasonable, and put forth in good faith. This category of objections includes legitimate concerns about national sovereignty, the status of private property within biosphere reserves, the amount of control the United Nations has over the management of land included within biosphere reserves, and the effect that biosphere reserves might have on the economy of nearby communities.

The fundamental point is that UNESCO, the MAB Council, the MAB National Committees, or any other part of the United Nations have no power to force changes in land/resource management or ownership upon governments, public agencies, or private parties in the United States (or any other country, for that matter). Through the MAB Council, UNESCO does set standards for biosphere reserves, and through periodic reviews it assesses whether the standards are being promoted. If they aren’t, the Council encourages the reserve manager to make the changes necessary to do so, but cannot force any changes. The United States’ participation in the biosphere reserve program is entirely voluntary, and land within U.S. biosphere reserves remains under the control of its owners.

What does “biosphere” mean? 

The word “biosphere” refers to the three regions of the Earth capable of being occupied by living organisms: (1) the surface of the Earth (land, oceans, lakes, rivers, and other waters); (2) close-lying subsurface areas occupied by plants and animals (including microorganisms), and (3) the low-altitude atmosphere where birds, insects, other flying animals, and plants can live. If you imagine a cross-section of the Earth in space, a side view of the planet as if it were cut in half from top to bottom, the biosphere would be a very thin slice of the total picture — no more than the “skin” of the Earth along with the area just above and below it. The word “biosphere” therefore conveys a special quality of rarity and value, and of life’s inherent fragility.

MAB was launched in 1970, and was formally endorsed by U.N. Member States at the U.N. Conference on the Environment (the first “Earth Summit”) in 1972. The original aim of MAB was to establish protected areas representing the main ecosystems of the planet in which genetic resources could be protected and research and monitoring could be carried out. These protected areas were to be called “biosphere reserves” in reference to the MAB program’s name.

Like all scientific programs, MAB has been refined over the years but still is committed to its original aims. Today, MAB is a set of related scientific research projects with three focuses:

  • Minimizing the loss of biological diversity;
  • Making people aware of how cultural diversity and biological diversity affect each other; and
  • Promoting environmental sustainability through the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

What’s a biosphere reserve?
A biosphere reserve is a unique kind of protected area that differs from a national park, wilderness area, national forest, or wildlife refuge in several important ways.

  • Biosphere reserves have three very different, but equal, aims: conservation of genetic resources, species, and ecosystems; scientific research and monitoring; and promoting sustainable development in communities of the surrounding region. All three of these aims are equally important in a biosphere reserve. (National parks and other kinds of protected natural areas usually are primarily concerned with conservation, and only secondarily with research and sustainable development.)

Under what legal authority are biosphere reserves created?

Biosphere reserves are not the object of a binding international agreement or treaty. Instead, they are governed by a “soft law” — the Statutory Framework for Biosphere Reserves — adopted by the UNESCO General Conference. The participation of U.N. Member States in the UNESCO General Conference is the point of national oversight on the MAB Program. It is the responsibility of each country, through its MAB National Committee, to ensure that the biosphere reserves respond to the criteria and function properly.

In most countries it is not been found necessary to enact special national legislation for biosphere reserves; instead, existing legal frameworks for nature protection and land/water management are used. That being said, today an increasing number of countries are passing national biosphere reserve legislation in order to make their legal status perfectly clear.

MAB and the United States
The U.S.’s role in MAB

The U.S. MAB Program is a voluntary, interagency effort which operates within the existing authorities of the participating agencies. Established in 1974, U.S. MAB is operates under a National Committee. Currently, that Committee is dormant.

U.S. MAB’ s mission statement is as follows:

The mission of the United States MAB Program is to explore, demonstrate, promote, and encourage harmonious relationships between people and their environments building on the MAB network of Biosphere Reserves and interdisciplinary research. The long-term goal of the U.S. MAB Program is to contribute to achieving a sustainable society early in the 21st Century. The MAB mission and long term goal will be implemented, in the United States and internationally, through public-private partnerships and linkages that sponsor and promote cooperative interdisciplinary research, experimentation, education and information exchange on options by which societies can achieve sustainability.

**So, I read all the above and thought “It is saying two different things.”  First it says the sites are still the sovereign nations of where they are located.  Then it says they are controlled and made sure to be kept under the strict guidelines of the UN.   So…. Which is it?

I found this article about what has occurred in the past and the article does say the sites are given up by the countries where they are located.

Portions of article:

UN’s World Heritage Sites Infringe on US National Sovereignty

As a result of a UN treaty called “The Convention Concerning Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage,” these sites come under the jurisdiction of the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Such designations have been the source of major debate as to whether the UN has infringed on sovereign American territory.

However, the debate may be about to rage even hotter. Because Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has just announced his selections of 14 more sites to be considered for nomination by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

Today, of the original 22 UN Heritage Sites that are located on American soil, fully 68 percent of American national parks, preserves and monuments are included in the UN designations.

Proponents of the UN Heritage Sites say such designations are nothing more than a great “honor” to the nation. They assure us that there is no threat to American sovereignty and that all designated sites remain firmly under control of the United States government.

If true, then the question must be asked, why is an international treaty with the United Nations necessary? The United States has already designated most of the UN Heritage Sites as United States parks or preserved historic sites. The land is already being preserved and protected for AMERICAN heritage purposes. These lands are valuable for their historical significance to this nation. REPEAT: WHY DO WE NEED AN INTERNATIONAL TREATY TO DO WHAT THE UNITED STATES HAS ALREADY DONE FOR ITSELF?


It is true that you will not find any UN documents clearly stating that the world body controls or owns American soil through the World Heritage Site Treaty. It is also true that you will not find blue-helmeted UN soldiers standing guard over any of the sites.

To fully understand the threat to American sovereignty posed by the UN designation of World Heritage Sites, one must first link this program to a series of other treaties and policies, and how they impact American sovereignty. Above all, one must understand that many in our government see such programs as another tool to build massive federal land-control programs.

There is strong evidence of close collaboration between the U.S. Park Service and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Committee. There is also strong evidence that the designation of UN World Heritage Sites goes hand in hand with the Administration’s Sustainable Development program. That program is nothing less than a massive federal zoning program that dictates property development on the local level, in the name of protecting the environment. The goal of Sustainable Development is to lock up vast areas of American land, and shield it from private use.

The designation of United Nations’ World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves can and does result in the centralization of policy-making authority at the federal level, particularly by the Executive Branch. Once a UN designation is made and accepted by the Federal Government there is literally no opportunity for private American land owners to dispute it or undo the designation.

Private property rights literally disappear, not only in the officially designated area, but worse, in buffer zones OUTSIDE the designated area. Not only has the federal government been using these treaties and agreements to limit access to, and use of these lands to all Americans, but they also have used the UN designations to limit use of private property OUTSIDE the boundaries of the site.

That is exactly what happened outside of Yellowstone National Park (a World Heritage Site) when UNESCO delegates were called in by the Park Service in an attempt to stop the development of a gold mine – located OUTSIDE the park. The UNESCO delegates declared Yellowstone to be the first “endangered” World Heritage Site and called for a protective buffer zone of 150-MILES IN DIAMETER AROUND THE ENTIRE PARK. The buffer zone would stop development and access to millions of acres of private property. Such is the purpose of the World Heritage Sites.

Moreover, in becoming party to these international land-use designations through Executive Branch action, the United States is indirectly agreeing to terms of international treaties, such as the Biodiversity Treaty – a UN treaty that has never been ratified by the United States Senate.

Nevertheless, in 1994, the U.S. State Department published the “Strategic Plan for the U.S. Biosphere Reserve Program.” Taken straight from the unratified Biodiversity Treaty, the State Department program is to “create a national network of biosphere reserves that represents the biogeographical diversity of the United States and fulfills the internationally established roles and functions of biosphere reserves.”

A chief tactic used by the UN and the Federal Government when designating a biosphere reserve or a World Heritage Site is to rarely involve or consult with the public and local governments. In fact, UNESCO policy actually discourages an open nomination for World Heritage Sites. The “Operational Guidelines for the Implementations of the World Heritage Convention” states:

“In all cases, as to maintain the objectivity of the evaluation process and to avoid possible embarrassment to those concerned, State (national) parties should refrain from giving undue publicity to the fact that a property has been nominated inscription pending the final decision of the Committee of the nomination in question. Participation of the local people in the nomination process is essential to make them feel a shared responsibility with the State party in the maintenance of the site, but should not prejudice future decision-making by the committee.”

In other words, the nominating committee is to hide the fact that a massive land grab is about to take place. Then, at the appropriate moment, the committee is to involve some local yokels to make them think they have something to say about the grab, then send them away, so that the committee can move ahead, unhindered. They aren’t suppose to worry about the fact that private landowners have just lost control of their property.

This is not the way the U.S. Constitution says things should be done. This is how despots at the United Nations run things. The Administration is allowing them to do it for the sake of more Federal power.

By allowing these international land use designations, the United States promises to protect the sites and REGULATE surrounding lands if necessary to protect the UN-designated area. Honoring these agreements forces the Federal Government to PROHIBIT or limit some uses of private lands outside the international designated area UNLESS OUR COUNTRY WANTS TO BREAK A PLEDGE TO OTHER NATIONS.

In a nutshell, here is the real game being played. Through such policies, the Federal Government is binding our nation to international treaties and agreements that stipulate that the United States will manage these lands in a prescribed manner in order to achieve certain international goals and objectives. In other words, we have agreed to limit our right of sovereignty over these lands.

That is why it is charged that World Heritage Sites are an infringement on United States sovereignty. You won’t find the smoking gun by reading the treaties. It can only be found in understanding the “intent” and the “implementation” of the policies.
So someone else obviously researched What a World Heritage site means previously.  They found and came to the same conclusion I did after my research.  Even though the U.S. government and the UN says it is an ‘Honor’ to have a “World Heritage” site and it stays under the control of the country it is in.  That is not true, once you read the “fine print” of it all.  The facts are our National Parks are not really OURS, they are the United Nations and World National Parks.  The United Nations actually has the full Control over the parks.  They have in fact stepped in when places have become ‘at risk’

So, when you go to our gorgeous “National” Parks, you will now know they are not really National Parks but are UN controlled “World” Parks.
Edit to add 3/5/13 – I have found more documents regarding the UN control of our National Parks and how they do control them.

documents about the Smoky Mountains and their decisions. 

An updated page from the UN site about the mountains – they state the mountain area is of world importance.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is of world importance as the outstanding example of the diverse Arcto-Tertiary geoflora era, providing an indication of what the late Pleistocene flora looked like before recent human impacts.

Update 3/6/13 – A Technical Review of UN World Heritage Sites
The below are just a few paragraphs from the link.  I advice reading the whole thing, as it mentions various National Parks in the review.


The World Heritage Convention was signed by the United States and adopted by the General Conference of the United Nations Environmental, Scientific and Cultural Organization on November 16, 1972. The purpose of the convention is to establish “an effective system of collective protection of the cultural and natural heritage of outstanding universal value” currently referred to as “global commons.” In 1995 there were 469 cultural and natural sites designated in 105 countries around the world, of which 20 are found in the United States.

UNESCO then goes on to say, “The Convention thus assumes and affirms the existence of a World Heritage which belongs to all mankindor global commons.

Whilst fully respecting the sovereignty of the State [nation]…State Parties to this Convention recognize that such heritage constitutes a world heritage for whose protection it is the duty of the international community as a whole to cooperate.”

The procedures for listing of cultural and natural properties begin at Paragraph 17 of the UNESCO Operational Guidelines for Implementing the World Heritage Convention. Procedures for cultural sites are specifically found starting at Paragraph 23, while those dealing with natural heritage sites begin at Paragraph 43. In relationship to the nomination of a site for listing, Paragraph 14 of the guidelines states that areas are to be nominated without “undue publicity” and with the participation of local people, only so far as they don’t “prejudice future decision-making by the Committee.”

The question of how far the World Heritage Committee can extend its authority is still unanswered, but it is certain that this question will move into the national and international court systems in the near future.