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Last Updated: Friday, 4 July, 2003, 17:48 GMT 18:48 UK
Kew is newest 'world wonder'
Kew Gardens is to join the likes of the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China as a modern wonder of the world.

The Amorphophallus titanium plant at Kew
The Amorphophallus titanum plant attracted hundreds of people to Kew
The Royal Botanic Gardens in south-west London was recognised as a "unique cultural landscape" by the United Nations, which has given it World Heritage Site status.

The 132-hectare site contains some of the world's largest and most famous botanical glasshouses and historic buildings.

There are also gardens which the more than one million yearly visitors can enjoy.

Kew director Professor Peter Crane spoke of his delight after the decision by the United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

"Being awarded World Heritage Site status is hugely exciting for us.

"It is a stamp of approval that puts us in the company of the best of the best and it brings with it increased prestige and public awareness."

Kew Gardens
The gardens give pleasure to a million visitors each year while contributing on a major scale to the conservation and understanding of biodiversity
Environment minister Lord Whitty

As well as a tourist attraction, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its living collection of plants and scientific facilities.

The site houses more than 40 listed buildings and structures including the Palm House, Temperate House, Orangery and Pagoda.

There are also two ancient monuments, Queen Charlotte's Cottage and Kew Palace.

UK environment minister Lord Whitty congratulated the gardens, saying the accolade "further underlines Kew's unrivalled global reputation".

He said: "The gardens give pleasure to a million visitors each year while contributing on a major scale to the conservation and understanding of biodiversity."

Last year and earlier this year, the world's biggest and smelliest flower, the Amorphophallus titanum, attracted hundreds of visitors when it bloomed - a very rare event.

The stink is described as a mixture of excrement and rotting flesh.

Recent attractions in England which have been given World Heritage Site status include the "Jurassic Coast", a 150-kilometre stretch of coast in Dorset and Devon known for its prehistoric remains.

A series of mills along Derbyshire's Derwent Valley and the village of Saltaire near Bradford in West Yorkshire were also given the award in 2001.

The BBC's Robert Nisbet
"A global stamp of approval"

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