Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Liverpool's world heritage waterfront faces 'irreversible damage', report says

Liverpool's world heritage site waterfront will be "irreversibly damaged" unless urgent modifications are made to a multibillion-pound skyscraper scheme, a delegation from Unesco has warned.
The delegation said the skyscraper proposal would result in "a serious loss of historic authenticity".

The Unesco inspectors praised the "more or less symmetrical profile" of the city's waterfront, with the Three Graces – the Port of Liverpool and the Liver and Cunard buildings – at centre stage and historical docklands to the north complementing those to the south.

The Graces were "at the heart of the shipping and harbour operations during the height of [Liverpool's] glory, surrounded by dockyards and port structures", they said.

But they warned that if the £5.5bn Peel Holdings development, including tall buildings such as the Shanghai Tower, went ahead, this profile would be shifted to the north by introducing a secondary cluster of high-rises, with towers three times the size of the Three Graces.

They would "[relegate] the Three Graces to playing second violin", the inspectors found, "thereby losing an important visual and historical reference to the city's glorious past".

The Unesco report said the views of the Three Graces from Kings Dock would disappear amid the supertowers.

Read more, here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

UNESCO nod on altering Selous boundaries not before June

Proposed alteration of Selous Game Reserve boundaries to pave way for a tricky uranium mining project in Namtumbo district, Ruvuma region faces uncertainty as no international clearance could be granted until June this year at the earliest.

The clearance on the boundaries change is supposed to be acquired from the World Heritage Centre, a body under the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Selous is listed on Unesco’s world heritage sites.

Ezekiel Maige, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, told The Guardian on Sunday this week that the government would be waiting for a decision from WHC after its June meeting, in which case no conclusion can be made before mid-year.

“World heritage centre meets once a year and during the 2011 meeting we submitted the proposals which the body has to look into before reaching a decision,” noted the minister.
He stated: “Through its advisory body the committee sent its team last October which looked into various matters including the Environment Impact Assessment. They visited the site and met the national Atomic Energy Commission, therefore the findings and report by this team would be key in reaching decisions.”

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Does Unesco Recognition Mean, Exactly?

WORLD HERITAGE is big business, bringing hordes of tourists to poor countries that can use the jobs and the cash. It can also overwhelm the very sites it is designed to protect with all the less-savory aspects of mass travel, from chain hotels and restaurants to the impact of thousands of sport-shoed feet treading on fragile ground.

But World Heritage can also be an odd business, giving recognition to traditions (like premodern tribal dances and giant French family meals) that might have little aesthetic value to any group except the one that practices it.

Read more, here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Park Service seeks comments on Yellowstone World Heritage progress report

CODY, Wyo. — The National Park Service has made available a draft progress report on addressing threats to Yellowstone National Park that will be submitted to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Public comments on the draft will be included with the final report that is submitted to UNESCO.

Yellowstone was among the initial properties designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1978. The U.N. managing committee placed Yellowstone on its list of endangered sites in 1995 and removed it in 2003.

The current report will be the sixth submitted by the Park Service detailing efforts to overcome the threats to park resources that initiated Yellowstone’s 1995 endangered listing.
The areas of concern addressed in the report cover many of the major issues that are familiar to those who track park management. They include:

  • efforts to secure bison migration routes to public and private property north of the park.
    fundraising to pay for lake trout suppression efforts over the next six years.

  • work to increase park grizzly bear connectivity with bears throughout the greater yellowstone area and to consider the need to further mitigate human-bear conflicts.
    consideration of how state management of gray wolves may impact the wolf population within the park.

  • development of a sustainability program to reduce the impacts of visitation and park operations.

  • continuing assessment of winter visitation and the effects from snowmobiles.
    The treaty that established U.N. World Heritage Sites was adopted in 1972 and became effective in 1975. It grew out of efforts led by the U.S. a decade earlier to protect ancient Egyptian monuments along the Nile River from being lost to rising waters from proposed dams and reservoirs.

The treaty that established U.N. World Heritage Sites was adopted in 1972 and became effective in 1975. It grew out of efforts led by the U.S. a decade earlier to protect ancient Egyptian monuments along the Nile River from being lost to rising waters from proposed dams and reservoirs.

There are 936 sites listed, more than 700 of which are cultural properties like the Statue of Liberty, the Sydney Opera House in Australia and the ancient city of Petra in Jordan.
Natural sites include the Galápagos Islands, the Great Barrier Reef and Grand Canyon National Park.

Each of the 187 nations that have ratified the U.N. World Heritage Site treaty voluntarily nominates its own sites featuring outstanding natural or cultural values. Member nations retain complete sovereignty over each site and over the operation of locations added to the list.
Public comments on the draft report may be submitted through Jan. 20 at the National Park Service web site.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Confrontation brews as U.N. World Heritage pact turns 40

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the United Nations international treaty on World Heritage, which has contributed much to protecting natural and cultural heritages from development, natural disasters or armed conflicts. However, the treaty now faces a key turning point amid confrontations between some developing and developed countries.
The treaty, formally called the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, was adopted at UNESCO's general meeting in Paris in November 1972 and took effect in 1975.

Backed by the United States, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization made efforts in the 1960s to protect the Nubian monuments along the Nile River — remains of the ancient Egyptian civilization — from being submerged in water due to the construction of dams and reservoirs. UNESCO's efforts led to the World Heritage treaty.

In 1978, 12 sites were inscribed on the World Heritage list for the first time. Among them were Yellowstone National Park of the United States and the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. The following year, 45 more sites, such as the pyramids of Egypt, were added to the list.
The number of World Heritage sites inscribed on the list stands at 936, comprising 725 cultural, 183 natural and 28 mixed properties.

The World Heritage convention is said to be the most successful international treaty in the sense that the number states signing it has increased to 187 — out of the 193 U.N. member states.
Japan was slow to ratify the pact, doing so in 1992, as it took time for the country to establish domestic legislation aimed at protecting natural and cultural assets. The following year, the nature-rich Yakushima Island off Kyushu, the Shirakami Mountain Range in northeastern Japan, the Horyuji Temple in the ancient capital of Nara, and Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture were placed on the list.

There are 16 sites from Japan on the list: 12 cultural and four natural. Most recently, in 2011, the Ogasawara Islands and the Buddhist temples, gardens and archaeological sites of Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, were added to the list.

Countries that hope to register their sites on the list are required to certify that those sites are of remarkable and universal value. UNESCO strictly checks if the sites and their environments have been fully protected.

After their sites are inscribed on the list, countries can receive financial and technical support from the international community, and can expect a boost in tourism to the sites.
Confrontation between some developing and developed countries is deepening, however. Developing countries hope to add more sites to the list, while some developed countries want to curb new entries to ensure the list's overall quality.

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee convenes a regular session every summer to examine requests from countries to place their sites on the list. In recent years, the committee has often decided to inscribe sites of some developing countries that experts of UNESCO advisory bodies have not highly evaluated. It seems to be the wish of developing countries to increase the number of their sites on the list.

The World Heritage Committee, which consists of representatives of 21 countries, decides whether to inscribe the sites on the list after UNESCO advisers and experts make on-the-spot inspections of the sites and file their opinions with the committee.

Read the rest of the article, here.