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Several Sites Added to World Heritage List


UNESCO in it’s 37 annual session, bestowed the status of “Outstanding Universal Value” on 5 natural sites and 14 cultural locations.  Included is Japan’s Mount Fuji and Italy’s Mount Etna, the Forts of Rajasthan in India, and the Namib Sand Sea in southern Africa.

Mt FujiRajasthanNamib_Desert

Also joining the list were the Medici Villas and Gardens in Tuscany, Tehran’s Golestan Palace, the Wooden Tserkvas (some of the oldest Greek churches of the area) of the Carpathian region of Poland and Ukraine. 


The UNESCO World Heritage Comittee annually selects sites based on the following criteria:

● To contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;

● To be outstanding examples representing major stages of Earth’s history, including the record of life, significant ongoing geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;

● To be outstanding examples representing significant ongoing ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;

● To contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

Ukraine’s Ancient City Gains World Heritage Status


Chersonesos_columnsThe UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee has decided to add the Ancient City of Tauric Chersonesos and its Chora to the World Heritage List.

The Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese and its Chora is the 7th property of Ukraine, which was inscribed on the prestigious list.  The city was established by Greeks over 2500 years ago.  It has been nicknamed the “Russian Troy” after excavations in 1827 unearthed the ancient city.

Chersonesos_ruins“ICOMOS considers that Tauric Chersonese is an exceptional example of an archaeological landscape which combines the archaeological site of a Greek peripheral polis and its extended chora and that this claim to Outstanding Universal Value is justified,” the document said.

Kaesong Added to World Heritage List


kaesongKaesong, located just north of the border with South Korea, was the capital of the kingdom that ruled Korea from 918 to 1392. The remains of the site include 12 structures in the area, one of which s a 1000 year old school.

The Kaesong site, North Korea’s light industry center which served as the base of the Koryo dynasty (918-1392) that gave its name to modern Korea were selected for their historical and cultural significance.

Iran’s Golestan Palace Granted World Heritage Status



The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization made the decision on Sunday during its World Heritage Committee’s 37th annual session held in Phnom Penh.  Golestan Palace, actually a complex of palaces in Tehran was built in Tehran in the 16th century when the Safavid Dynasty was ruling Iran and seat and home of the Kahdja Dynasty but was used by the last of the shahs, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his father Reza Shah for ceremonial occasions.  “The Golestan Palace is considered of Outstanding Universal Value because it is presented as the most complete and only remaining example of a royal palace which is an architectural masterpiece of the Qajar era,” the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) said in a statement.

Iran’s Arg-e Bam to be Removed from World Heritage in Danger List



Iran’s ancient citadel of Bam is scheduled to be removed from the UNESCO list of “World Heritage in Danger” after recent restoration to much of the site .  The Arg-é Bam was the largest adobe building in the world, located in Kerman of southeastern Iran. The devastation of citadel caused by the earthquake which occurred in 2003 led UNESCO to register it on the list of World Heritage in Danger.  The 2003 Earthquake in Bam destroyed more than 80 percent of the Citadel. As a World Heritage site several countries are cooperating in the reconstruction. Japan, Italy, and France are among countries which cooperated from the beginning. Japan has granted some $1,300,000 US dollars to Iran for the reconstruction, and has supported this project by sending equipment and creating the 3D plan of Bam Citadel to increase the accuracy of the renovation. Italy has funded 300,000 US dollars in the salvation project, and has dispatched a team of experts to restore the main tower of Bam. France has helped Iran by providing the map of Bam Citadel. World Bank has also granted a large sum of money to this project.

Before Earthquake

Before Earthquake

After earthquake

After earthquake

Photos of Ancient Bam (Arg-e Bam), Bam
During restoration: photo courtesy of TripAdvisor

Rare Fox Rebounds on Channel Islands


Island Fox

It was in 2000 when the population of fox dropped to an all-time low of just 70 animals on Santa Cruz Island. However, after 13 years, the rare and tiny island fox is on the verge of making a comeback from near-extinction in the northern Channel Islands, a rugged and wind-swept chain of islands off of Southern California coast as reported last month (May, 2013) by the Associated Press. The U.S. National Park Service estimates the number to be about 1,300 foxes now.
Populations of fox on nearby San Miguel and Santa Rosa islands have also bounced back into the hundreds after dropping in 1999 to just 15 of the cat-sized animals on each island. It is important to note that the island fox is only found on six of the Channel Islands, a chain of eight islands, five of which form a national park. Each of the six islands has its own unique fox subspecies known because of extensive genetic screening studies based on Yahoo News report.
In 1990s, a five-year period in fox populations decreased more than 90 percent on the islands due to an influx of golden eagles, which preyed on foxes and other small animals like feral pigs. The eagles were attracted by hundreds of feral pigs which were descendants those brought to the island years ago by ranchers.
In 2002, biologists on Santa Cruz Island trapped the few remaining mating fox pairs and kept them in captivity to try to boost their numbers and four of the six subspecies were listed as federally protected endangered species in 2004, but now biologists say they may soon come off the list.

Seventy Seven Species are Placed on IUCN Red List



red logoAccording to the latest International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are more than 20,000 endangered species on their Red List of Threatened Species. Out of this number, seventy seven belong to Iran, and this number is 3/4th of all animal species in Iran.

Destruction or deterioration of conditions in their natural habitats, new industries and factories, building roads in restricted areas, illegal fishing and hunting, droughts, and lack of attention by the governmental departments are among the causes that have resulted in the present situation.

Among the endangered animal species of the country, the Iranian panther and Persian Zebra are considered the most important ones.








Neglect of Historical Fortresses on Islands in Southern Iran


fortressLack of attention and neglect by officials has resulted in the destruction of a number of historic castles on the southern islands of Iran.

One great example of a historical structure that has experienced deterioration and destruction because of neglect is Hormouz castle, which is the most important structure built during the Portuguese domination of the Gulf coast and islands. This Castle was built by a Portuguese admiral in 1507.

Another castle known as the Portuguese Castle is 400 years old and has seen major deterioration and it is in very bad condition.

Unfortunately, the restoration work that has been done a couple of times by the specialists who do not have the right training has resulted in major destructions of these sites.

The Saga of Taksim Square


TaksimMany protesters and supporters of NGOs that work for the preservation of environment are still present in Taksim Square, in the heart of Istanbul, Turkey. The protesters are angered by the Turkish government’s decision to destroy Gezi Park (adjacent to the Square) for new commercial developments. Taksim is a part of Turkish history and a tourist attraction as well as a recreational place with shops, hotels, and restaurants. The beautiful Gezi Park is a major part of the complex.

Turkish people are very keen on their cultural, historic and environmental heritage. In addition to the knowledge they have gained during the last several decades in regards to the importance of their heritage, they are aware of the economic impact that tourist attractions have on their livelihood.  Turkey is amongst the ten first countries that generate income out of their tourism industry.

Thus, it is no surprise when thousands of people show up to answer the call to stop the demolition of the park. They gather in Taksim to “Save the Endangered Trees”. Other proposed changes to several historic sites and monuments, including the heritage of Kamal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, has added to the angry protests in many other cities as well. Click on this video link to see protestors in action.

India’s Rajasthan Forts Included on UNESCO’s List


Rajasthan_Fort_IndiaSix forts of Rajasthan that date back to 8th-19th centuries have been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.  The International Council in Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which evaluates cultural properties for UNESCO, recommendated last month (May 2013) the inclusion of Chittaurgarh fort in Chittaurgarh district, Kumbhalgarh fort in Rajsamand, Ranthambhore fort in Sawai Madhopur, Jaisalmer fort in Jaisalmer, Amber fort in Jaipur and Gagron fort in Jhalawar on the UNESCO’s list.

These forts are examples of military architecture and the structures range from 8th to 19th century and comprise multi-gated approaches through massive and high fortification walls, palaces, temples, memorials and water reservoirs according to archeologists. The extensive fortifications that are up to 20 km in circumference exploit the contours of the hills, and specifically the river at Gagron, dense forest at Ranthambhore, and desert at Jaisalmer.

India currently has 29 heritage sites listed by UNESCO which 23 in the cultural category and six in the natural category. Last year, the Western Ghats were inscribed on the list in the natural sites category. The Majuli islands of Assam are also currently in referral stage.  The sites that have been approved this time were rejected by UNESCO last year. India’s Ministry of Culture had written to the UNESCO, objecting to the rejection as factual errors were found in the reasons listed for the rejection as reported by Times of India.