Natural heritage is the legacy of natural objects and intangible attributes encompassing the countryside and natural environment, including flora and fauna, scientifically known as biodiversity, and geology and landforms (geodiversity).
Heritage is that which is inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations.
The term "natural heritage", derived from "natural inheritance", pre-dates the term "biodiversity", though it is a less scientific term and more easily comprehended in some ways by the wider audience interested in conservation biology. "Natural Heritage" was used in the United States when Jimmy Carter set up the Georgia Heritage Trust  while he was governor of Georgia; Carter's trust dealt with both natural and cultural heritage,. It would appear that Carter picked the term up from Lyndon Johnson, who used it in a 1966 Message to Congress. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act of 1964. "Natural Heritage" was picked up by the Science Division of The Nature Conservancy when, under Jenkins, it launched in 1974 the network of state natural heritage programs. When this network was extended outside the USA, the term "Conservation Data Center" was suggested by Guillermo Mann and came to be preferred.
Legal status 
An important site of natural heritage or cultural heritage can be listed as a World Heritage Site by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO. The UNESCO programme, catalogues, names, and conserves sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. As of March 2012, there are 936 World Heritage Sites: 725 cultural, 183 natural, and 28 mixed properties, in 153 countries.
The 1972 UNESCO World Heritage Convention established that biological resources, such as plants, were the common heritage of mankind or as was expressed in the preamble: "need to be preserved as part of the world heritage of mankind as a whole.". These rules probably inspired the creation of great public banks of genetic resources, located outside the source-countries.
New global agreements (e.g., the Convention on Biological Diversity), now give sovereign national rights over biological resources (not property). The idea of static conservation of biodiversity is disappearing and being replaced by the idea of dynamic conservation, through the notion of resource and innovation.
The new agreements commit countries to conserve biodiversity, develop resources for sustainability and share the benefits resulting from their use. Under new rules, it is expected that bioprospecting or collection of natural products has to be allowed by the biodiversity-rich country, in exchange for a share of the benefits.
In 2005, the World Heritage Marine Programme was established to protect marine areas with Outstanding Universal Values.
- http://maps.csc.noaa.gov/RoisDatabaseEntry/lawDetails.jsp?lawID=107 The creation of the Heritage Trust Commission, Georgia Heritage Trust Act, Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.) Section 12-3-70
- President Jimmy Carter
- http://alumnus.tennessee.edu/issues/contents/spring-2007/ Paul Pritchard, founder and president of the National Park Trust
- p. 311, The Governors of Georgia, 1754-2004 By James F. Cook, ISBN 0-86554-954-0, 2005 Mercer University Press
- Kiely, Kathy (2009-01-22). "Lady Bird Johnson dies at 94". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-05-20.