Amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites in North America

Archaeological Site Of Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Mexico: In southwestern Mexico, just a few miles west of the modern city of Oaxaca, find this less-famous (but no less worthy) archaeological site. A number of native peoples built and refined the canals, dams, pyramids and structures of Monte Alban over the course of 1,500 years, literally carving the site out of the mountainsides. They left behind a grand capital filled with advanced architectural design, ancient tombs, sacred sites and even a ball court, some 1,300 feet above the Oaxaca Valley below. (Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)


Our heritage is what defines us. We live in and among the very places that our ancestors built and cultivated years before we were here. Today, UNESCO protects these historical sites so that we can explore, understand and learn from our collective past (the perfect pursuit, we think, on any vacation).

Think these spots are all far, far away, in distant foreign lands? Think again. We’ve picked a few that are practically in your own backyard. Here are 10 amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites in North America, from Pennsylvania to Puerto Rico and beyond.

Old Town Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada

A seaside town on Nova Scotia’s South Shore, Lunenburg is bursting with charm and nautical history. Quaint crimson-painted wooden houses and historical churches line the harbor. In town, galleries, distilleries and a remarkably informative fishing museum, complete with a boatbuilding shop and whale bones, welcome amblers. In fact, experts say a guided walking tour, threading through Lunenburg’s perfectly preserved streets, is the best way to get acquainted with this former British colonial settlement.

ALSO ONLINE: 10 irresistibly charming World Heritage cities

Taos Pueblo, Taos, N.M.

Taos Pueblo, sitting in a small, sandy valley in northern New Mexico, is the only living Native American community designated both a UNESCO World Heritage site and a National Historic Landmark. Archaeologists estimate that the ancestors of the Taos Indians lived in this very spot long before Columbus landed on America’s shore (and its oldest structures likely date back to 1000 CE). It’s still inhabited, and tradition dictates that current residents use no electricity or running water when living within its adobe walls.

Archaeological Site of Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Mexico

In southwestern Mexico, just a few miles west of the modern city of Oaxaca, find this less-famous (but no less worthy) archaeological site. A number of native peoples built and refined the canals, dams, pyramids and structures of Monte Alban over the course of 1,500 years, literally carving the site out of the mountainsides. They left behind a grand capital filled with advanced architectural design, ancient tombs, sacred sites and even a ball court, some 1,300 feet above the Oaxaca Valley below.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia

Uncover the birthplace of a nation in some 20 city blocks, with the UNESCO-designated Independence Hall as its centerpiece. In this modest brick structure topped by a bell tower, the Declaration of Independence was drafted and the thoroughly American experiment with democracy begun. Take a tour of the historic hall itself, visit the cracked Liberty Bell, or enjoy a number of special National Park Service-led programs during Freedom Week (the week surrounding the Fourth of July, when Philadelphia’s streets burst with crowds, fireworks and a patriotic parade).

La Fortaleza, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Visitors flock to San Juan for its all-inclusive resorts and golden-sand beaches, but this hub has much to offer by way of history as well. La Fortaleza, a 16th-century military structure perched on San Juan’s harbor, gives visitors a glimpse into San Juan’s past as a well-defended colonial seaport. It is now the current official residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico (the oldest executive residence in North America) as well as a major attraction for guided tours of its sumptuous interiors of mahogany and wrought-iron scrollwork.

Historic District of Old Quebec, Quebec, Canada

When Samuel de Champlain settled Quebec, he chose a spot on a precipitous plateau overlooking the St. Laurent River. From that point, a lively city grew outward, with colonial churches, convents and fortresses flanking its heart and a bustling harbor below. The former capital of New France is today alive with history, with the grand Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac (Canada’s most iconic hotel) front and center. A spirited Winter Carnival takes over the World Heritage city each year.

Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

At Chichen-Itza, a towering stepped pyramid and a few other structures are what remain of a bustling urban center built by the Maya people a millennium ago. With 365 steps (one for each day of the year), the main temple of Kukulkan rises from the ground, a mystical-seeming testament to the technological skills of an ancient people. The ruins are one of Mexico’s most visited sites, with frequent bus service from Merida and Cancun connecting vacationers to an enduring piece of Mexico’s past.

Monticello and the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

Thomas Jefferson’s beloved Virginia home, set among the rolling hills of rural Virginia, is a much-loved tourist attraction and historical site. See Monticello’s neoclassical architecture, vineyards and gardens (Jefferson was an avid botanist) and get acquainted with the life of one of the country’s exceptional Founding Fathers. The picturesque estate, the only presidential and private home in the U.S. on the UNESCO World Heritage list, is unmatched. Tours, films, exhibitions and lectures offer an in-depth view of Jefferson’s life.

Landscape of Grand Pre, Nova Scotia, Canada

This stunning “living landscape” of Grand Pre in Nova Scotia became Canada’s 16th UNESCO site in 2012. Here, the Acadians and native Mi’kmaq peoples lived in peace, maintaining crops and settlements beside the picturesque Bay of Fundy for years. Today, visitors embark on a 45-minute drive from Halifax to take in the area’s incredible scenery, farmers’ markets and vineyards, staying the night in the cozy bed-and-breakfasts that dot the Grand Pre’s golden meadows.

Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, Michoacan, Mexico

An explosion of orange and the sound of a billion fluttering wings descend on Mexico each year. Scores of monarch butterflies from all over North America return to this protected biosphere, alighting on the firs and, according to UNESCO, “literally bending their branches under their collective weight.” Why they return and in such numbers remains a mystery, but the natural phenomenon draws eco-minded tourists each year, ensuring the site against overdevelopment.

READ THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites in North America

Take a photo tour of 100 of the world’s most beautiful and interesting UNESCO World Heritage sites with the gallery below:

Article source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/destinations/2014/07/31/unesco-world-heritage-site-usa-canada-mexico/13359091/

Royal Belum State Park as a world heritage site

IPOH: The Perak state government is working with the National Heritage Department towards getting the recognition of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) of Royal Belum State Park as a world heritage site.

Encompassing 117,500 hectares, Royal Belum which was gazetted on May 3, 2007 is believed to be in existence for more than one hundred and thirty million years, older than the Amazon rainforest in South America and Congo rainforest in Central Africa.

It is the habitat of 14 endangered wildlife species including the Malayan tiger, Sun bear, Sumatran rhinoceros, elephants and the herbivorous ‘tapir’.

State Tourism, Arts and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Nolee Ashilin Mohamed Radzi said if the endeavour materialised, Perak would have two world heritage sites.

“There will not only be two world heritage sites in one state but two within the Lenggong/Gerik district tourism cluster,” he told Bernama here.

He said the department would officially submit an application to Unesco at the end of the year or early next year, for Royal Belum to be included in the tentative list.

“A thorough study is required, which will take time before the site can gain Unesco’s endorsement. In this regard, I urge those involved to work and assist the department,” he said.

Last May 9, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, while launching the second phase of Rainforest Resort in Gerik, proposed that relevant parties and agencies study the world heritage potential of the Belum-Temenggor forest complex, within which Royal Belum is located. – Bernama

Article source: http://www.thesundaily.my/news/1126270

‘Colonial-era mass grave’ found in Potosi, Bolivia

Potosi is overlooked by the famous Cerro Rico – “Rich Mountain”

A grave containing at least 400 people has been unearthed in the Bolivian city of Potosi, with the remains thought to be those of colonial-era miners.

The grave was found by workers carrying out excavations for the construction of a new building.

The mine at Potosi became the world’s biggest after silver was discovered there by the Spanish in 1545.

African and indigenous slaves worked the mines – it is estimated as many as eight million may have died.

The mines at Potosi were a source of huge riches for Spain until the end of colonial rule in the 19th Century.

“We are talking about a common grave found at about 1.8 metres (5.9 ft), and the human remains are scattered over an area of four by four metres,” Sergio Fidel, a researcher at a museum belonging to Potosi’s Tomas Frias University, told AFP.

The university intervened when it learnt that construction workers were piling the bones in a heap while work continued.

Last month the UN’s cultural body Unesco put Potosi on its list of World Heritage Sites in danger because of “uncontrolled mining operations in the Cerro Rico Mountain that risk degrading the site”.

Article source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-28508389

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The 9 Must-See Spots

View from Battery Park near the Ritz-Carlton New York Battery Park. (Oyster.com/MCT)

July 23, 2014

By Jane Reynolds

Oyster.com

(MCT)

We have seen some beautiful sites during our travels around the world. But don’t take our word for it (although you should; we are experts) — many of our favorite places are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means they are “places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.” And there you have it — spots that make this list are absolutely stunning. To date, there are 911 sites on the list and we have seen a ton of them. But to make things a tad more manageable, we’ve pared it down to 9 sites that you’ve just got to see. And if you can make it to all 911, then by all means go for it.

1. Statue of Liberty, New York City

We’re starting local — for us, at least. A beacon of hope for travelers to New York City since it was dedicated in 1886, the Statue of the Liberty is one of the most-recognized and beloved National Monuments in the United States. Visitors can walk to the top for sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline from the statue’s crown, and many visit Ellis Island at the same time to round out their historical and cultural trip.

Where to Stay: The Ritz-Carlton New York Battery Park

As expected of the luxury brand, this Ritz property boasts gorgeous rooms, top-notch service and a long list of amenities. Some rooms feature views of the Statue of Liberty.

2. Canal Ring, Amsterdam

It may have celebrated its 400th birthday last year, but Amsterdam’s gorgeous Canal Ring has only been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010. Creating a semi-circle around Old Center, the Canal Ring is a series of man-made waterways lined by beautiful historic mansions. Though it has expanded over the years, the Canal Ring was first made in the 17th century in order to provide a means of movement for shipping within the city center.

Where to Stay: Hotel Pulitzer, a Luxury Collection

The Hotel Pulitzer is a charming luxury property in the Canal Loop of Amsterdam. The hotel is made up of a block of 25 restored 17th and 18th century canal houses and is full of historic details.

3. Area de Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Covering a massive expanse of land in the northwest region of Costa Rica, the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste has been a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site for 15 years. With both land and sea, it is home to beautiful rainforests and beaches where a plethora of protected wildlife — like jaguars, hummingbirds, bats and sea turtles, just to name a few — live.

Where to Stay: Reserva Conchal

Located in Guanacaste, Reserva Conchal is comprised of four individual condo villages, each with several buildings clustered around a communal pool.

4. White City of Tel-Aviv, Israel

One of the “youngest” cultural sites to make the UNESCO list, the White City is a collection of over 4,000 buildings (painted white, hence the area’s name) built in the Bauhaus style in the 1930s by German Jewish architects who came to Tel Aviv to escape the rise of Nazis. Not only is it the largest collection of Bauhaus buildings in a single city in the world, but it is considered an outstanding example of 20th-century city planning.

Where to Stay: Alma Hotel Lounge

With just 15 rooms, the Alma is one of Tel Aviv’s best and most intimate boutique hotels, conveniently located in the White City. Rooms come with an abundance of thoughtful extras, including welcome treats, espresso machines, and loaner iPads (upon request).

5. The Pitons, St. Lucia

One of the most naturally stunning sites in the Caribbean, the Pitons are two volcanic mountains that rise out of the sea. The juxtaposition of their lush green color against the crystal-clear blue of the Caribbean Sea makes for breathtaking photo ops, and the pair — nicknamed the Grand Piton and the Petit Piton — have been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2004.

Where to Stay: The Still Beach House

This budget-friendly five-room inn along Soufriere Bay has no gym, no spa and no pool — in fact, the only extras are direct access to a public beach and a breezy restaurant and bar. And rooms would be average, if it weren’t for the incredible views they boast of Petit Piton, which appears at arm’s length from every room’s private balcony.

6. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Dating back to the Middle Ages, the Notre Dame is one of the most beautiful, and best preserved, examples of Gothic architecture in the world. Nowadays a museum — but still a place for regular worship — entry to the cathedral is free and is a must-do when in Paris.

Where to Stay: Hotel Le Notre Dame

Within steps of the Notre Dame Cathedral, this hotel is also notable for its chic rooms, designed by Christian LaCroix.

7. Yosemite National Park, California

One of a dozen natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the U.S., Yosemite National Park is arguably the most important to visit. Encompassing over 700,000 acres across east central California and the Sierra Nevada mountain range, it draws millions of visitors each year to its majestic cliffs, waterfalls, and canyons. From hiking and biking to climbing and skiing, tourists can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities in America’s third-oldest national park.

Where to Stay: The Ahwahnee

Nestled deep amongst the pine trees, cliffs, and canyons of Yosemite Valley is the 123-room Ahwahnee Hotel. The impressive stone and wood structure, built in 1927, is considered a National Historic Landmark.

8. Belize Barrier Reef

Belize is considered one of the best spots for diving in the world, in large parts thanks to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Belize Barrier Reef, the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. Indigenous wildlife like turtles, manatees, crocodiles and hundreds of species of fish and coral call its waters home. The site also includes sand cays, mangrove forests, lagoons and estuaries.

Where to Stay: Chabil Mar

Chabil Mar, right on the beach on Placencia Peninsula, has 22 spacious villas equipped with family-friendly amenities: open kitchens, washers/dryers, closet space and one to two bedrooms.

9. Sydney Opera House, Australia

Inaugurated in 1973 and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, the Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic structures in the country-continent. Not only does it boast breathtaking views of the Sydney Harbor, but its awe-inspiring design makes for top-notch acoustics for the many performances that take place in the space annually.

Where to Stay: Pullman Quay Grand Sydney

These chic one- and two-bedroom apartment-style units look out over peaceful green gardens or the busy but beautiful harbor, and have floor-to-ceiling windows; modern, minimalist decor; big kitchens; dining areas; and cozy living rooms.

©2014, Oyster.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services





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Article source: http://www.neviewpoint.com/2014/07/23/unesco-world-heritage-sites-the-9-must-see-spots/

Malaysian Airlines Atrocity: 10 Ways the US Should Respond to Russia’s Role in …

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Evidence is mounting that Russian-backed insurgents in eastern Ukraine were responsible for the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines plane, with the loss of 298 lives. This was an act of barbarism by separatists who are armed, funded, and trained by Moscow. It follows from Russia’s illegal invasion, occupation, and annexation of Crimea and its attempts to dismember eastern Ukraine through fighting a proxy war against Kiev.

Moscow must be held to account for its role in this atrocity, which further underscores that the Russian reset is dead, as well as for its actions on the ground in Ukraine. The United States should respond by establishing a new long-term strategy to deal with a hostile and aggressive Russian regime, one that protects its vital interests against the irresponsible and illegal actions of Moscow while strengthening the NATO alliance. The U.S. should pursue the following actions as part of that strategy.

1. Withdraw from New START

New START is a fundamentally flawed treaty that dramatically undercuts the security of the U.S. and its allies. It is an extraordinarily good deal for the Russians, as it significantly limits Washington’s ability to deploy an effective global missile defense system. It does nothing at all to advance U.S. security while handing Moscow a significant strategic edge.

2. Be Prepared to Isolate Moscow Diplomatically

Washington should be prepared to expel Russia’s ambassador to Washington and deny American visas to all Russian government officials and their family members if Moscow continues to facilitate acts of aggression in Ukraine and refuses to accept responsibility for its involvement in the Malaysian Airlines atrocity.

The U.S. could enforce a 25-mile travel restriction on officials assigned to the Russian mission to the United Nations in New York. Similar restrictions could be imposed on Russian officials assigned to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund headquarters in Washington, D.C.

3. Exclude Russia from the G20 Summit in Australia

Moscow should be treated as even more of a pariah on the world stage. Russia has already been suspended from the G8. The U.S. should rethink future Russian participation in the G20, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the Community of Democracies.

In the immediate term, the U.S. should work with Australia to exclude Russia from the upcoming G20 summit to be held in Brisbane, Queensland, in November. Washington should also work with allies in Europe to pressure FIFA, the soccer’s world governing body, to withdraw the World Cup from Russia, where it is due to be held in 2018.

4. Increase Military Cooperation with NATO Allies

In light of recent Russian aggression, the Department of Defense should prioritize U.S. training missions in Central and Eastern Europe. The Pentagon and NATO should immediately begin to review and update contingency defense plans. These plans should deliver a suitable, credible, and actionable conventional defense of NATO member nations.

The U.S. should temporarily deploy military assets necessary for protection of its allies in Central Europe and boost the number of U.S. military training facilities, including in Romania, Bulgaria, and the Baltics.

5. Uphold the Missile Defense Commitment in Europe

Central and Eastern European countries view NATO’s ballistic missile defense system as a fundamental part of the alliance’s defense. It is essential that the Administration uphold missile defense commitment to America’s allies in Europe, especially after its loss of credibility following the abrupt cancellation of the third site in 2009.

6. Reverse the Closure of U.S. Bases in Europe

President Obama should halt base closings in Europe and pledge a firm commitment to America’s military presence across the Atlantic. It is time for NATO to scrap the 1997 agreement with Russia, which limits the basing of NATO assets in Central and Eastern Europe. This would demonstrate U.S. commitment to transatlantic security and offer more opportunities for joint military training.

7. Provide Assistance to the Ukrainian Government

Ukraine does not enjoy the security guarantees afforded to NATO allies, but the U.S. has several military options available that do not include the immediate deployment of American forces into Ukraine. The U.S. military and its allies have the ability to provide the legitimate, democratically elected government of the country appropriate assistance to restore the stability of the country and ensure public safety.

The U.S. should buttress Ukraine’s military planning and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities so that the best possible picture of this rapidly evolving crisis can be assembled and appropriate actions determined and implemented as effectively as possible. For example, it is appropriate for the U.S. to deploy teams of military planners to work with Ukraine’s general staff. Supplies, equipment, or small arms should be sent only with some measure of confidence that the materials would help stabilize Ukraine’s situation and not simply fall into Russia’s hands or those of Russian loyalists.

8. Pressure NATO Allies to End Military Cooperation with Russia—Especially Spain and France

Some NATO members continue to provide Russia with military support. Spain allows the Russian navy use of its ports, and France is selling two amphibious assault ships to Russia. French and Spanish support to the Russian navy weakens NATO’s opposition to Russian aggression against Ukraine and projects an image of a divided alliance.

The U.S. government should make it clear at the highest levels that it views any support to the Russian navy in terms of equipment sales and port access as completely unacceptable in light of Russian aggression.

9. Lift Restrictions on Energy Exports to Europe

President Obama should back the lifting of restrictions on the export of natural gas and other forms of energy to U.S. allies in Europe. Much of Russia’s power in Central and Eastern Europe is the result of its control of energy supplies and distribution systems. Reducing energy dependence on Russia would dramatically weaken the economic grip Moscow has on parts of Europe and reinforce the position of NATO allies.

Diminishing Russia’s economic leverage over the region should be a key component of America’s response. This could largely be accomplished simply by liberalizing global energy markets. The U.S. has antiquated and unnecessary restrictions on exporting liquefied natural gas and crude oil, and lifting these restrictions should be a priority.

10. Expand the Target List of Russian Officials Under the Magnitsky Act

The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act denies U.S. visas to and places financial sanctions on Russian officials and individuals guilty of human rights violations. Currently, only 30 people linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been sanctioned.

The Obama Administration needs to go significantly further. Washington should implement a greater range of targeted sanctions aimed directly at Russian officials responsible for violating Ukrainian sovereignty, including freezing financial assets and imposing visa bans.

Send a Clear Message

The U.S. should send a clear message to the Kremlin that its actions in Ukraine are unacceptable. Putin’s actions in recent months have made it impossible to consider Russia a responsible nation or suitable partner for the U.S.

—Nile Gardiner, PhD, is Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, at The Heritage Foundation. James Jay Carafano, PhD, is Vice President for the Davis Institute and the E.W. Richardson Fellow. Dakota Wood is Senior Research Fellow for Defense Programs in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy of the Davis Institute. Luke Coffey is Margaret Thatcher Fellow in the Thatcher Center.

About the Author

Nile Gardiner, Ph.D.

Director, Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom

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James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, and the E. W. Richardson Fellow

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Dakota Wood

Senior Research Fellow, Defense Programs

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Luke Coffey

Margaret Thatcher Fellow

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Article source: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/07/after-the-malaysian-airlines-atrocity-10-ways-the-us-should-respond-to-russias-role-in-ukraine

Science was rigorous for Tasmanian World Heritage listing

Contrary to a recent assertion, the scientific assessment of Tasmania’s World Heritage area was protracted and rigorous.

IT IS UNFORTUNATE THAT Mark Poynter, in his attempt to establish that politics rather than science has determined the World Heritage decision in favour of the Tasmanian forests, fails to focus on the science and instead attacks the people providing the science. In the familiar sporting aphorism, he plays the man not the ball.

As one of those whose credentials are questioned, I can briefly refer to my lifetime of expertise as forester, conservation scientist and heritage assessor, advising governments, international institutions, the private sector and organisations.

For the record, my 40-plus-year career in forests and conservation has included the past 25 years advising on most aspects of World Heritage both in Australia and in South-East Asia, Papua New Guinea, the Middle East, Japan and South America. It is for this well recognised professional expertise and experience that I am retained, not for any political position.

Now to the science and the detail of the World Heritage processes which Mr Poynter does not seem to understand. All nominations to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee whether for new sites or additions to sites must be formulated in accordance with the scientifically based ‘Criteria for the Assessment of Outstanding Universal Value’ and in addition must meet the relevant Conditions of Integrity.

The Commission of Inquiry into the Lemonthyme and Southern Forests in the 1980′s, a host of subsequently published papers and more recently the Independent Verification Group all provided valuable scientific contributions to the formulation of the 2013 nominated additions. Scientific data and observations were not limited to the tall forests alone but included documentation on a diversity of attributes including archaeological, Aboriginal cultural sites, karst, fossils, caves, endangered species and rare and threatened plant communities.

Contrary to Mr Poynter’s assertion, the concept for extension of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) to include a continuous tract of tall eucalypt forest and adoption of an appropriate eastern boundary was being progressively formulated long before the Tasmanian Forest Agreement 2012 and was informed by a wide range of proposals, heritage values, documentation and other considerations.

The Forests Agreement, not surprisingly, picked up and included this proposal within its terms. Mr Poynter in this and previous articles, frequently refers to the 2008 World Heritage Centre field mission to Tasmania but omits to note that, notwithstanding the reservations and findings of the mission, the World Heritage Committee, at its meeting in Quebec later in 2008 (32 COM 7B.41) considered that report, but resolved to advise Australia that it “Reiterate(s) its request to the State Party to consider, at its own discretion, extension of the property to include appropriate areas of tall eucalyptus forest, having regard to the advice of IUCN…”.

The rejection of additions proposed by the field mission played up by Mr Poynter actually emerged as a reiterated invitation to Australia to nominate additional tall eucalypt forest. Always better if you get the full story. The Committee takes its scientific advice on natural heritage from International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Australia took up that invitation and by 2013 had assembled a nomination dossier that met requirements, including, importantly, the ‘conditions of integrity’.

Again contrary to Mr Poynter’s contention, the 2013 nominated additions to the TWWHA were not misrepresented as ‘minor amendments’. The Committee’s operational guidelines do not specify a minimum area for what constitutes a minor amendment though IUCN, the official advisory body to the Committee for natural heritage suggests 10 per cent as a guideline. While the nominated boundary change slightly exceeded this guideline, it was accepted because the lands included had been the subject of ongoing scrutiny and deliberation by IUCN and the World Heritage Committee, plus the Committee had invited such additions. It also included an existing national park (Mount Field) that had previously been flagged for addition. The Australian submission was responding to the World Heritage Committee invitation to consider an extension “….having regard to the advice of IUCN…” and that was done.

Longer than 10 minutes

As is the case with all additions, the 2013 nominated additions were subject to assessment and advice to the World Heritage Committee by IUCN and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). In the Phnom Penh World Heritage Committee meeting in 2013 reviewing the Australian extension submission, Committee members were briefed on the merits of the additions proposed and none disputed the Australian case for listing.

Before the Australian request to remove the extension area was considered at the Doha meeting of the World Heritage Committee, it had been scrutinised in detail by IUCN and ICOMOS and in May they recommended refusal.

The test for any removal which the 2014 decision was required to meet is that it must be “[a modification] which has not a significant impact on the extent of the property nor affects its Outstanding Universal Value.” Given the evidence before IUCN and ICOMOS, the proposed delisting had no chance of meeting this test.

The IUCN advice and the World Heritage Committee decision to refuse removal of the extension reflected that it would result in the delisting of outstanding stands of pristine tall eucalypt forest, much of it old growth; loss of ecological connectivity; removal of more than 24 Aboriginal cultural sites, including an ice-age archaeological site; removal of glacial landforms, karst, caves and critical habitat of endangered species – all documented – all of which would have had a serious impact on the integrity of the World Heritage Area.

Tasmanian forests: where politics trumps science

Peter Hitchcock’s article is in response to a recent opinion piece from Mark Poynter. Read the original here.

Similarly, boundary integrity would have been seriously impacted. Many of the values at risk were the same scientifically documented attributes and values that contributed to the case for the listing of the extension in the first place in 2013.

None of the Committee member delegates that I consulted with in Doha in 2014 had any doubts about the World Heritage values of the 2013 additions or that the proposed delisting would have a serious impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the TWWHA.

While the formal process for the World Heritage Committee to unanimously reject the Australian Government submission was brief, occupying less than 10 minutes of the formal meeting time, it was obviously preceded by the members having already considered and taken into account all the material and advice before them during the preceding weeks, including advice from IUCN and ICOMOS.

In response to comments on his article, Mr Poynter has already conceded he was wrong in his claim that “Further exemplifying the political interference is that the disputed areas of the TWWHA extension were listed before they had been declared as national parks. This is a first in Australia…” Anyone familiar with World Heritage process would be aware that this is incorrect. Any number of land parcels in Australia that were not national parks has been listed as World Heritage and there is certainly no requirement for declaration as a national park.

For example, in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area there are around 300 freehold properties. The Australian Government’s demonstration that any lands are protected and will be appropriately managed is the relevant prerequisite. Instead of a personal attack on the professional integrity of myself and others involved in this process, Mr Poynter would do well to understand the actual processes of the World Heritage listing and review system which is rigorous and based entirely on science and professional assessment, not politics.

Peter Hitchcock is an environmental consultant and a member of the Order of Australia (AM).

Article source: http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2014/07/21/4049273.htm

OAS hails Unesco’s addition of Inca Road to World Heritage Sites list

July 17, 2014

Andina

Representatives at the Organization of American States say that the project is example of international cooperation in South America.


(Photo: Peru21)

OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza welcomed Unesco’s decision to include the Qhapaq Ñan in the World Heritage list, as it shows Incas’ genius and reminds us that unity of Americas is not just a political slogan.

In a press release issued by the hemispheric organization, Insulza said “this reality is reflected today in the joint efforts of Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador that culminated in this announcement.”

During the last Permanent Council meeting, OAS member countries celebrated the inclusion on the Unesco list of World Heritage sites of the Andean road system Qhapaq Ñan, which crosses six members of the organization.

Permanent Representative of Peru to the OAS Juan Federico Jimenez explained that, “thanks to the Qhapaq Ñan, the Incas were able to join the great historical, natural and cultural diversity of the territory that today is part of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.”

“This is a recognition of these six countries historical richness, joined historically by this system of roads, that was crossed a complex geography along the ridge of the Andes, with monumental pathways and thanks to the management of Incas construction techniques,” said Ambassador Jimenez Mayor.

Upon the announcement, Unesco explained the decision, saying “this extraordinary network through one of the world’s most extreme geographical terrains, linked the snow-capped peaks of the Andes to the coast, running through hot rainforests, fertile valleys and absolute deserts.”

The organization noted the inclusion emphasizes “the social, political, architectural and engineering achievements of the network, along with its associated infrastructure for trade, accommodation and storage, and sites of religious significance.”

The Qhapaq Ñan, which means in Quechua “royal road,” is some 5,200 kilometers long, and reaches from Quito to Tucuman, in Argentina. Although some parts lie beneath cities today, a large area of the enormous network remains passable.

Connecting Cusco with all of its territories, the Qhapaq Ñan eased communication with the many peoples of the empire, and served as a means of integration as much political as administrative, socioeconomic, and cultural.

Among other cities, the route passes through Lima, La Paz, Cochabamba, Santiago and Salta. Its most famous stretch, known as “the path of the Inca,” connects Cusco with Machu Picchu, and attracts lots of tourists annually.

This is the first time six countries have presented a proposal to the World Heritage Committee, and was the result of a process that lasted more than ten years, and in which the cooperation between the six OAS member states was critically important.

Together with the Qhapaq Ñan, Unesco added to the list of now 988 World Heritage Sites the Carolingian Westwork and Civitas Corvey in Germany, and the Ancient Maya City and Protected Tropical Forests of Calakmul, Campeche.

During the meeting, the Peruvian Ambassador presented a video showing the historic and cultural value of the Andean road system.

Article source: http://www.peruthisweek.com/news-oas-hails-unescos-addition-of-inca-road-to-world-heritage-sites-list-103505