World Heritage Newsletter #3

Thu, 9 Dec 1993 00:26:46 -0800

A daily newsletter covering the activities of the World Heritage
Committee, meeting in Cartagena, Colombia, December 6-11, 1993
Vol. II, No. 3 Wednesday, Dec. 8

CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA. In its first day reviewing nominations to the
World Heritage List, the World Heritage Committee gave unanimous consent to
the listing of four natural sites and four cultural sites. Japan, the
Philippines, and El Salvador all received their first World Heritage sites
since joining the Convention. In Japan, which only ratified the World
Heritage Convention in 1992, two sites were inscribed. Shirakami, a 10,000
ha beech forest near the northern end of the island of Honshu, is the
largest virgin remnant of the cool-temperate beech forest that once covered
the hills and mountain slopes of northern Japan. The second Japanese site,
Yakushima, 10,747 ha in the interior of Yaku Island, has as its central
focus an ancient cedar forest, with specimens as old as 3000 years.

Two sites were also nominated in Mexico, both in Baja California: the
Baja Whale Lagoons, and the nearby El Vizcaino Reserve. The primary
importance of the former site are two coastal lagoons, where whale breeding
and parturition concentrations occur. The entire Baja peninsula is
important as a wintering site for grey whales and birds and is a
significant nesting area for four of the world's seven species of marine
turtles. Vizcaino contains important concentrations of pre-hispanic rock
art of exceptional quality and in an excellent state of preservation.

The first World Heritage site to be inscribed in the Philippines is
Tubbataha National Marine Park, two atolls in the middle of the Central
Sulu Sea. The park is one of the best known examples of a diverse coral-
atoll system in Southeast Asia. It is a nearly pristine coral reef, with
extensive lagoons and a spectacular 100-meter perpendicular wall. The
diversity of corals and fish is exceptional.

Two cultural sites in Spain were inscribed on the World Heritage
List, bringing the Spanish total number of World Heritage properties to
nineteen. The two were the City of Merida and the Royal Monastery of Santa
Maria de Guadalupe. Merida was a former Roman 'colonia' with important
elements of Roman town design, including an amphitheatre, theatre, and
circus. Aqueducts and two dams in Merida are also exceptionally well
preserved. The town was established by Augustus in 25 BC. The Royal
Monastery of Santa Maria de Guadalupe played an influential role in the
history of medieval and modern Spain; it is as well an important ensemble
of widely differing architectural styles including the 14th-15th century
Mudejar church and cloister.

The first World Heritage site to be inscribed in El Salvador is the
Joya de Ceren archaeological site, a pre-hispanic farming community
exceptionally well preserved by a sudden volcanic eruption about 600 AD
which engulfed the village under layers of ash. It is thought that nowhere
in the western hemisphere is the archaeological record of a pre-hispanic
farming community as well preserved as here. Excavations begun in 1978,
although discontinued during the war, continue today.

The meeting will continue tomorrow with additional nominations of
other cultural properties.



The day's session opened shortly after ten o'clock, continuing the
monitoring sessions begun the day before. The better part of the morning
was taken up by the report of Mr. Sylvio Mutal, who described his
continuing work in the UNESCO/UNDP Regional Project monitoring sites in
Latin America, the Caribbean, and Mozambique. Repeating and extending his
presentation made at the Committee meeting a year before in Santa Fe, Mr.
Mutal outlined his monitoring methodology, which now encompassed 47 sites
in the region. Much of his presentation evoked little comment from his
audience, although the discussion of a new bridge proposed in Cartagena
included a separate presentation by the Colombian delegation attempting to
clarify the issue. In Salvador de Bahia (Brazil), where restoration work
was forcing out a portion of the local population, he recommended that a
workshop be held on the issue. A member of the Cuban delegation described
the conservation programs being undertaken in Havana and the activity of a
new Cultural Heritage Centre which had been set up with the assistance of
UNDP to become a resource for the entire region. The Brazilian delegate
completed Mr. Mutal's presentation with slides showing the changes that had
overtaken Brazilia since it had been constructed.

After a noon coffee break, the session resumed at 12.30 to consider
the reports of the World Heritage Centre on selected cultural properties.
Mr. Bouchenaki for the Centre reported on several sites that had been
brought to the attention of the Committee at earlier meetings:

- Delphi (Greece). A planned olive packing plant in the vicinity of the
site was not to be granted building permission unless certain
conditions were fulfilled; and the Centre would be kept informed.

- Samos (Greece). A road construction project in the vicinity of the
Acropolis of Samos had been postponed.

- Puebla (Mexico). A large tourism development project had been
proposed for Puebla to recreate the former Rio San Francisco by
demolishing a large number of colonial-period structures. The
Committee had as yet received no information from Mexico concerning
the project.

The MEXICAN delegate noted that urban development is largely under
the control of local legislation, which had not yet been presented. MEXICO
assured the Committee that by the Bureau meeting the following June, the
delegation would be able to report back.

- Avila (Spain). A new bridge over the Rio Adajo, immediately outside
of the historic walls of the city was being proposed. The Centre had
requested ICOMOS to investigate the situation. The investigation was
undertaken by the Spanish National Committee of ICOMOS, whose
representative was in Cartagena to address the Committee. The
representative reported that the bridge would indeed have a direct
impact, particularly since it was close to the old Roman bridge over
the same river. The bridge would also adversely affect views of the
city, and he urged that a new solution be found to solve the city's
transportation need.

The SPANISH delegate responded that they could give no comment on the
project until they had heard the views of the Avila municipal authorities,
which they were awaiting.

- Burgos Cathedral (Spain). Conservation problems at the cathedral had
been reported to the Centre, and that there was a lack of
institutional arrangements between local, regional, and national
authorities. The Spanish delegation had inquired into the matter at
the request of the Committee and reported that although maintenance
responsibilities were being transferred to regional authorities, new
measures had been taken both for the maintenance of the cathedral and
to provide for an advisory body.

Finally, Mr. Boushenaki arrived at one of the most complex issues
facing the Centre, Angkor. He reminded the Committee of the conditions
under which the site had been inscribed on the World Heritage List at the
last Committee meeting including the enactment of new protective
legislation. He noted that the new Cambodian Constitution (articles 69-71)
made the protection of cultural heritage a duty and made the World Heritage
site a "combat-free zone." A new agency, "the National Heritage Protection
Authority of Cambodia" had been created in February; and to establish the
permanent site boundaries and a meaningful buffer zone, UNESCO had
developed for the area a "Zoning and Environment Plan" (ZEMP). A Geographic
Information System (GIS) in the Angkor Conservation Office would provide a
continuous database for future field surveys. Within the cultural area, the
ZEMP team had identified two large protection areas, as well as over 500
special areas of archaeological concern. The complexity of the site led the
team to recommend the establishment of an Angkor Parks Agency. These and
other recommendations were being submitted as a draft plan to the Cambodian
government for consideration and adoption.
Supporting the field work, UNESCO had created a special Angkor Unit
within the Cultural Sector, with additional support for its Cambodian field
offices. An Intergovernmental Conference on the Safeguarding and
Development of the Historic Site of Angkor, held in Tokyo in mid October,
had been attended by 29 governments. The "Tokyo Declaration" created an
intergovernmental committee at the ambassadorial level to coordinate
activities at Angkor.

- Dubrovnik (Croatia). Extension of the site boundaries will be
discussed with other nominations. A special fund provided by UNESCO
and the Committee was providing for roof repairs caused by war

- Saint Sophie (Turkey). Turkish authorities had requested a mission to
this site, which took place in November. The report, which recommends
monitoring building movement and requests assistance, will be

- The Hermitage (Russian Federation). Details on this mission, one of
three in Russia, would be forthcoming.

- Shibam (Yemen). Slides showing the serious damage by flooding were
presented. The earthen architecture of this "Manhattan of the desert"
made it exceptionally vulnerable to such climate events. A mission in
October reported on the extent of damage.

The Committee adjourned for lunch shortly after one o'clock. When it
resumed two hours later, the observer from TUNISIA summarized the results
of his mission to Angkor at the request of UNESCO.


The spokesman for ICOMOS, Herb Stovel, presented the reports of four
of the ten monitoring reports which had been prepared at the request of the

- Kizhi Pogost (Russian Federation). As described at the last meeting
of the Committee, there had been concern over the structural
stability of the church as well as over the continuity of protective
measures in the transition from the U.S.S.R. to the Russian
Federation. The studies were now complete, and ICOMOS recommends that
the Committee continue support for ICOMOS involvement to finalize the
definition of conservation needs.
- St. Petersburg (Russian Federation). Inadequate public resources, a
changing economy, housing shortages, ecological problems, regional
growth and other problems were among the issues facing the city.
Although these problems were understood locally, authorities lacked
the comparative data illustrating how professionals elsewhere
attacked similar problems. ICOMOS recommended that a workshop for
professionals and municipal planners be held next June with ten
outside professionals from other European cities and that the
Committee support ICOMOS in organizing this program.

THAILAND and GERMANY at this point both questioned whether, based on
the Committee's action over the Everglades the day before, the city should
be added to the World Heritage in Danger list. Was the Committee being
inconsistent by not nominating the city? Mr. von Droste, for the Centre,
suggested that this was a question to be discussed in reviewing the
Operational Guidelines if the delegate cared to submit it as an agenda
item. LEBANON suggested that it was proper to consult the State Party
first. In response, the UNITED STATES delegate observed that there was
still some residual confusion over the modifications to the Guidelines,
which now specifically allow the Committee to place a site on the list

The Chair determined that there was a consensus on the ICOMOS

- Santiago de Compostela (Spain). A sports center had been nearly
completed to a height above agreed limits. As a result of expressions
of disapproval by both the Spanish National Committee of ICOMOS and
by the World Heritage Committee, the building height was lowered to
the level originally authorized and a more compatible roofing
material employed.

The UNITED STATES congratulated ICOMOS on the successful outcome of
this intervention; GERMANY thanked the Spanish authorities for their
compromise; and SPAIN thanked ICOMOS for helping to prevent a "pre-problem"
from becoming a problem.

- Kathmandu Valley (Nepal). This site, also reviewed at the last
meeting of the Committee, was a multiple-component site with seven
distinct monument zones and 132 principle monuments within those
zones. Extraordinary population pressures in the area, as well as the
inadequacies of the original nomination placed a severe threat on the
World Heritage site, despite the attempts of the local authorities to
deal with the worst problems. Compounding the difficulty were
significant differences between the versions of the nomination papers
held in Nepal and at the Centre. ICOMOS recommended that the
Committee encourage the Nepalese authorities to request the site be
inscribed on the World Heritage in Danger list, and to support a
follow-up mission.

The observer from NEPAL did not think that the situation was as
severe as that which ICOMOS had painted. Some development had affected the
monument zones, but some was clearly outside the zone. Local authorities
continued to be actively involved and new policy instruments had recently
been put in place.

Delegates from the UNITED STATES, GERMANY, and THAILAND joined the
debate, taking stands generally based on whether the Danger list was viewed
as a tool of assistance or a "black mark." A key element, however, was the
fact that the actual ICOMOS report, together with the detailed maps, had
not been received. ICOMOS and the Centre recommended that as no one had
seen the report, the issue should be tabled at least until the next Bureau

By way of conclusion, the ICOMOS representative observed that ICOMOS
had begun what promised to be an effective decentralized monitoring system,
with ICOMOS National Committees providing monitoring reports for sites
within their own country. UK ICOMOS had taken the lead on this along with
Norway. The same procedure was being considered by ICOMOS Canada.

- Hadrian's Wall (U.K.) Mr. Von Droste asked about the status of a
proposed walking trail on the ruins of the wall. The ICOMOS
Coordinator, Henry Cleere replied that ICOMOS had already expressed
strong reservations about this plan and urged that the Committee
communicate its concern to the UK government authorities.


After a break, the Committee resumed its deliberations, taking up the
nomination of properties proposed by States Parties to the World Heritage
List. Jim Thorsell, for IUCN, made the presentation for the four natural
sites recommended for inscription by the Bureau, as well as four that had
been rejected. Six others, that had been withdrawn or deferred, would not
be discussed.

The four nominations accepted for inscription are noted in the
opening paragraphs of this newsletter. Those rejected as not meeting the
criteria of the Convention were:

- Fossil Findings of Ipolytarnoc (Hungary)
- Wild Ass Sanctuary (India)
- Cedars of Lebanon (Lebanon). IUCN recommended that Lebanon resubmit
this small site in a larger nomination being considered for the
Qadisha Valley.
- Cuc-Phong National Park (Vietnam). Although the site did not meet the
criteria, there were several important sites in Vietnam that did, and
IUCN encouraged Vietnam to consider a new submission.

The ICOMOS Coordinator, Henry Cleere, presented the first four
cultural property nominations to the Committee, starting with Spain out of
concern for the travel plans of the Spanish delegation. Presentation of
Joya de Ceren (El Salvador) was made by Prof. Augusto Molina Montes. As
noted in the opening paragraphs of this newsletter, these nominations, for
Spain, Mexico, and El Salvador, were accepted.

The meeting adjourned shortly after six o'clock, with agreement to
reconvene at nine the following morning.

W o r l d H e r i t a g e C o m m i t t e e
-------- Annual Meeting, Cartagena, Colombia, December 6-11, 1993 --------
This distribution is made possible through the cooperation of the Canadian
National Committee of ICOMOS, the Institute for Global Communications, and
a grant from Martha S. Diener. The reports are those of an observer of the
meetings and do not represent official publications of either the World
Heritage Centre or any delegation.
Inquiries to the distribution coordinator, Peter Stott
<> or <> or fax> to (57-53) 655-145.